Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Death of Roger Ailes Puffs Wind Into Sails of a False Meme: The Corporate Mainstream Media As Liberal

New York Times and "On The Media" Coverage of the death of Roger Ailes allowed Ailes to make specious argument from the grave, in the end serving the financial interests.
The death of Roger Ailes could have been an occasion to note that the presence of Fox News on the corporate news spectrum (like the growing Sinclair Broadcast conglomerate and others) moves the already corporatist and hence conservative slant of mainstream media somewhat further to the right.

Instead, the death of Mr. Ailes was used to deceptively buttress the notion that Mr. Ailes himself worked hard to promote, that corporately owned mainstream media instead of being conservatively and routinely supportive of vested monied interests, is, instead, “liberal” or “progressive.”  The eulogies making this post mortum assessment don’t promote the Fox News Network that Mr. Ailes helped birth as “fair and balanced,” per the motto Mr. Ailes affixed to the network, the assessments instead make Mr. Ailes false fact practices seem almost “fair” or at least part if a fair game because it was “balancing.”

Somehow as they engage in this misleading-slight-of-hand the pundits manage to sound judiciously sober.

What am I talking about? . .

 . .  I am talking about the the impression you would likely have gotten from reading of Mr. Ailes death in the New York Times, which styles itself as the paper of record though hardly being reliable in that regard.

 . . . More disconcerting was hearing commentary on Mr, Ailes’ death from “On The Media,” a WNYC based public radio program the exists to provide and overarchingly accurate meta-perspective on the nation’s media generally.  It’s sad because I would normally recommend “On the Media” for being reliable in meeting higher standards.

I don’t think I am being too harsh here.

Before I get to the capper from “On the Media” here is what you could read in the New York Times:

•      Roger Ailes: The Man Who Mined a Divided America (The Fox News creator made a fortune creating a cultural safe space for Americans pining for the way things were), by Jim Rutenberg, May 18, 2017
    . .  Roger Ailes saw a divided country but an undivided news media. And he set out to change it.

    . . . Mr. Ailes built a network, the Fox News Channel, that would speak to and for those Americans he said were being ignored and disrespected. . .

    * * *

    His network . .  presenting news with an approach he called "fair and balanced," an indictment of the rest of the news media as excessively liberal.
•     Roger Ailes, Who Built Fox News Into an Empire, Dies at 77 (Mr. Ailes exerted wide influence on American politics with his conservative Fox News, only to be undone by sexual harassment allegations.), By Clyde Haberman, May 18, 2017
"If we look conservative," he said, "it's because the other guys are so far to the left." In his mordant humor, CNN stood for Clinton News Network and CBS for Communist Broadcasting System. What Fox News did, he said, was apply a necessary corrective.

* * * *

Almost immediately he called on Mr. Murdoch, who longed for a news network of his own and shared Mr. Ailes's belief that existing news organizations were far too liberal. They created Fox News in fairly short order.
You get the same impression from the video news version the Times posted- Roger Ailes: Polarizing Media Mastermind, May 18, 2017.

On the Media” much more explicitly described the corporately owned media Ailes was purportedly providing a balance against was actually liberal. progressive, not conservative.

•     A Bill of Indictment, May 19, 2017
FOX News Channel was founded on . . .  one great truth, that mainstream news media were voices of liberalism, . .  a journalistic mentality that largely overlaps with progressive thinking. Reform, truth to power, comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable, liberal democracy is the consensus . . .
In one fatal summary valedictory “On The Media” framed the entire existence of Fox News exactly as the sort of he-said-she-said contest that OTM normally inveighs against.

Instead of suggesting that Ailes genius was an atunement to the voice of a forgotten and neglected populace why didn't any of these summings up report on the money that catapulted Fox into existence in the mid 1990s before it gain traction with with manipulative falsehoods?

It is worth noting that Fox reportedly was paying cable television providers $11 a subscriber to put it on the air when it launched rather than the convention, which was the reverse, for the cable providrs to pay the content provdiers.  See: Bold grab for subs: Murdoch offers $11 to carry Fox News. (News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch to launch Fox News channel) May 6, 1996 and Media: Entrepreneurs race big cable companies to get new cable services to viewers, by Geraldine Fabrikant, May 6, 1996.

$11 per subscriber plus the forgone spread that would normally have been paid to a provider instead is quite a substantial portion of the overall average cable bill.  I don't know what it was in 1996, (bills have been increasing rapidly in recent years) but in 2001 the average cable bill was reportedly $48.00.

Consider the Fox News tactic of paying to be broadcast with how much other networks want to be paid their retransmission fees. In 2013 CBS went off the air in major cities because of the retransmission fees it demanded it be paid.  In March of 2010 a standoff between Disney’s ABC and cablevision affected the broadcast of the Oscars that year.

The political slant of corporately owned media media is a problem because it is corporately owned.  The slant of corporately-owned Fox News is likewise a problem, and that is similarly because of the money behind it.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

New York Times Launches New Section: War

The new "War" section that will be appearing regularly through the week in the New York Times starting today, the first day of this month.
The New York Times is launching a new section to its daily print edition: “War.”  The new section, which will run multiple days during the week, will, according to the Times description of it, be most closely analogous to its “Sports” section that runs regularly throughout the week.

The new section will replace several other sections the Times is discontinuing, including the Tuesday “Science” section, the Wednesday, “Food” section (previously namedDining”), the Thursday “Style” section and, long a candidate for discontinuance,  the Sunday “Metro” section.

With the United States military now deployed in 70% of the world’s recognized nations, 147 out of 195, an increase of eighty percent since 2010, you pretty much need a score card to keep track of all the skirmishes and battles we are winning around the world by having our teams kill so many people on the other side of these contests.  This section will provide that kind of organization with box scores for each country broken down separately, making it far easier to tell which country and which conflict is which.

Commenting, General Mad Dog Mattis, Trump’s Secretary of Defense, said that the new section with its ongoing scores will be much appreciated by the government saying that it will give the American public a more convincing sense that the nation is making progress with the escalating casualty figures, like recently in Mosul,  laid out in a with more emphatic and celebratory fanfare, “We invest significant resources, in these efforts,” Mattis said, “and it’s important that citizens who often vote, think that we are getting results.”

The box scores will focus on officially released calculations with respect to combatants on each side, not figures that are considered just collateral to the conflict.  

While rationale for the new Times section stems partly from the fact that the United States spends a huge percentage of its budget, more on war than all the rest of the world, and more even than the other significant military powers combined, the new War section will not report on the financial costs or aspects of these world-wide mobilizations.  That job will be left to the "Business" section according to the Times description of what is planned.  “We will be following the pattern and approach we use with the Sports section when we report about such complex and challenging things as the public financing of sports arenas.  Like sports, war in this country is big business, even bigger business than sports, but the business side of things, everything concerning the flow of dollars (and who gets them) is for other people to read about, not the general public whose jobs is to root for us to win when our boys fan out in the field.”

Launching the War section to replace other sections of the paper reflects societal change as well as solves some problems for the paper.  The Times stressed that, in a fast changing world, how the paper is organized is not written in stone.   For instance, Times readers surely noticed when the Times discontinued its once separate “Technology” section, a staple for many years.  Now, instead, if you want to read about the technology and perhaps its implications for surveillance, the Times has substituted by publishing just a few tech-related articles regularly every Thursday, the day the Technology section used to run, plus it covers day-to-day any important tech developments during the week as they occur.

Cutting the Science section at this time makes sense for the Times because the Trump administration is cutting way back on science funding, eliminating climate change information from federal website pages and subjecting federal scientists to gag order restrictions about communicating with the press thus ensuring that the Times will have fewer press release based stories about science to feature.   Conversely, the Trump administration’s budget new budget proposes to increase U.S. military spending by an amount that is roughly equal to the entirety of all of Britain’s military spending.
Recent spending chart from the Times.

One thing not yet decided is whether the new Times War section will cover what happens when increased U.S. Military spending pushes more surplus war equipment out for use by local police departments.  Coverage of this could slipstream nicely within the general ambiance the section expects to cultivate.

The Times is tapping a member of a well known patrician family to helm the new section as editor: Worth Atherton Snarell.  His family has a long history of being represented in the nation’s military exploits, going back to the American Revolution, in nearly all the major wars the United States has been involved in, nearly continuously since its inception and also has had many members who were war correspondents, and under the auspices of Times patriarch Arthur Hays Sulzberger worked and journalists and for the CIA.
In terms of precedent, Mr. Snarell noted that Democracy Now titles its five-day a week hourly news broadcasts “The War and Peace Report.”  We are doing something very different said editor Snarell: “For one thing, we are not dealing with ‘peace’ at all.  Peace is far too flummoxing, subtle and challenging to think about for a public that expects the kind of excitement that keep its entertained and when you get into that kind of thing it confuses what we are supposed to keep straight in our mind about who the good guys and who the bad guys are supposed to be. “

The first issue of the section will publish today, April 1, 2017.   Look for the its letter of introduction to the readers from editor Worth A. Snarell.

Monday, February 6, 2017

The Good News Is That There Are Books You Can Delve Into To Reflect Upon Life In Fascist Dystopias. The Bad News Is Whether What Your Choice To Do So Says About You Gets Communicated To . . . And Could You Consequently Lose Essential Freedoms?

Donald Trump's assumption of the presidency has everyone reading about life in dystopias.  His meeting with vote-suppressing meister Kris Kobach. . . Would you like to read about real life?
G-Damn!  Three featured New York Times articles in on virtually the same subject in just three days. .  What books Americans are reading! . . .

. . .  It must be pretty important!

And it is!  It is important to know that Americans are reading!  And what the multiple Times articles all tell us is about the incredible surge of Americans now choosing to read novels about fascist dystopias.

Three NY Times Articles About The Sudden Popularity of Books About Fascist Dystopies Tell Us  . . .

Below are the Times articles with some extracts.  Please not that I have bolded to supply, in one small respect, some emphasis.  (Enjoy the overall repetitiveness of these articles overall.) 

•    Uneasy About the Future, Readers Turn to Dystopian Classics, by Alexandra Alter, January 27, 2017
"The Handmaid's Tale" is among several classic dystopian novels that seem to be resonating with readers at a moment of heightened anxiety about the state of American democracy. Sales have also risen drastically for George Orwell's "Animal Farm" and "1984," which shot to the top of Amazon's best-seller list this week.

Other novels that today's readers may not have picked up since high school but have landed on the list this week are Aldous Huxley's 1932 novel, "Brave New World," a futuristic dystopian story set in England in 2540; and Sinclair Lewis's 1935 novel "It Can't Happen Here," a satire about a bellicose presidential candidate who runs on a populist platform in the United States but turns out to be a fascist demagogue. On Friday, "It Can't Happen Here" was No. 9 on Amazon; "Brave New World" was No. 15.

The sudden boom in popularity for classic dystopian novels, which began to pick up just after the election, seems to reflect an organic response from readers who are wary of the authoritarian overtones of some of Mr. Trump's rhetoric.

* * * *

. . .  Since the inauguration, sales of the novel ["1984"] have risen 9,500 percent, according to Craig Burke, the publicity director for Signet Classics, a paperback imprint at Penguin. . .

* * *

"It's a frame of reference that people can reach for in response to government deception, propaganda, the misuse of language, and those are things that occur all the time," said Alex Woloch, an English professor at Stanford University who has written about the roots of Orwell's political language. "There are certain things this administration is doing that has set off these alarm bells, and people are hungry for frames of reference to understand this new reality."
•    Why `1984' Is a 2017 Must-Read, by Michiko Kakutani, January 26, 2017
The dystopia described in George Orwell's nearly 70-year-old novel "1984" suddenly feels all too familiar. A world in which Big Brother (or maybe the National Security Agency) is always listening in, and high-tech devices can eavesdrop in people's homes. (Hey, Alexa, what's up?) A world of endless war, where fear and hate are drummed up against foreigners, and movies show boatloads of refugees dying at sea. A world in which the government insists that reality is not "something objective, external, existing in its own right" - but rather, "whatever the Party holds to be truth is truth."
"1984" shot to No. 1 on Amazon's best-seller list this week, after Kellyanne Conway, an adviser to President Trump, described demonstrable falsehoods told by the White House press secretary Sean Spicer - regarding the size of inaugural crowds - as "alternative facts." It was a phrase chillingly reminiscent, for many readers, of the Ministry of Truth's efforts in "1984" at "reality control."

* * *f

Not surprisingly, "1984" has found a nervous readership in today's "post-truth" era. It's an era in which misinformation and fake news have proliferated on the web . .   sow doubts about the democratic process.
•    George Orwell's `1984' Is Suddenly a Best-Seller, by Kimiko de Freytas-Tamura, January 25, 2017
George Orwell's classic book "1984," about a dystopian future where critical thought is suppressed under a totalitarian regime, has seen a surge in sales this month, rising to the top of the Amazon best-seller list in the United States and leading its publisher to have tens of thousands of new copies printed.

* * * *

Prof. Stefan Collini, a professor of intellectual history and an expert on Orwell at the University of Cambridge, said that readers see a natural parallel between the book and the way Mr. Trump and his staff have distorted facts.

* * * *

“That kind of unreality that is propagated as reality is what people feel reminded of, and that’s why they keep coming back.”
It’s great that there are books, recognized classics, that you can delve into to think more deeply about the thought control, lack of freedom, lack of democracy, and lack, even lack of reality, that is possible in fascist dystopias.  Reading such books you may even find tools to deal with such dsytopias and to stave them off. . .

The Bad News: What Reading These Books Tells. . .

But there is a flip side.  Have you thought about the bad news, about how reading those very same books could actually cause you to loose your political freedoms and political rights?  Have you thought that it might deprive you of your right to elect the president?  Deprive you of your right to elect any of the government officials who are supposed to represent you?

Consider this: Your choice when you read these books will say things about you (just as those articles in the Times wanted to make that exact point) and think about who that will be communicated to.

Certainly you have noticed that when you shop for something online everyone seems to know exactly what you have been shopping for?  You shop for underwear, a new refrigerator, a certain kind of electronic equipment, or even a medicine, and all of a sudden the advertisements and a emails are following you around suggesting to you and reminding you about how, where and when to buy that underwear, that new refrigerator, that electronic equipment, and the medicine you were interested in.. .

  . . Since I have been researching this article Hulu is following me around with an ad telling me to watch `The Handmaid's Tale.' 

Amazon Says. . .

The little bit of emphasis I provided with my bolded text above called attention to how the purchase of these dystopia books involved, in all the instances being cited, sales that were being kept track of by Amazon, which despite having opened its very first brick and mortar store recently, does almost all of its selling through the internet.  Amazon is also a huge monopoly, increasingly vertical in multiple respects, able to use the data it collects to undercut its own sellers, which, because it should therefore be subject to anti-trust actions, puts it in a significant and inextricable relationship with the federal government.  What kind of relationship exactly does Amazon have with the federal government?: Well, for one thing, it’s head, Jeff Bezos, owns the Washington Post, which has a powerful lot to say about the stature of all the government officials who regulate Amazon.

Amazon says: “Customers Who Bought [Orwell’s `1984'] Also Bought-  `Brave New World' by
Aldous Huxley,  `Animal farm: A Fairy Story,' by George Orwell, `It Can't Happen Here,' by Sinclair Lewis.”

Amazon says: “Customers Who Bought [Sinclair Lewis’ `It Can't Happen Here'] Also Bought-  `1984,' by George Orwell,  `Brave New World,' by Aldous Huxley, `The Origins of Totalitarianism,' by Hannah Arendt, `The Handmaid's Tale,' by Margaret Atwood, `The Plot Against America,' by Philip Roth.”

AND customers Who Bought Orwell’s “1984" and Sinclair Lewis’ “It Can't Happen Herealso voted for. . .

Running The Electorate Through A PRIZM That Divides Into A Spectrum. . .

What begins with commercial marketing soon migrates to the political realm.

In his recently published “The Attention Merchants: The Epic Scramble To Get Inside Our Heads,” author Tim Wu writes about the revolution in advertising that occurred in the 1970s with the advent of PRIZM* (Potential Ratings in ZIP Markets).  It was a way to profile Americans for targeted advertising that, computers doing the sorting, used public census data about the U.S. population spread throughout the nation’s newly created ZIP codes to go beyond the simplest categorizations (“young or old,” “male of female,” “black or white,” “Northerners vs. Southerners”) and subdivide and geographically locate forty characteristically distinctive identified “clusters” or “subnations,” not one United States, “all calling the same continent home.”
(* Not to be confused, despite the ominous similarity of name or potential similarities, with the National Security Agency PRISM surveillance program that whistleblower Edward Snowden made famous that collects data from at least nine major U.S. companies, including,Google, Microsoft, Apple, Skype, YouTube, AOL and Yahoo.)
Wu explains that PRISM could be used so precisely for marketing maneuvers that in 1982 the Coca-Cola company was able to introduce Diet Coke, its new diet cola, without cannibalizing the sales of TaB, the diet cola it already had on the market.  It did so by avoiding, “advertising Diet Coke in Tab clusters, and even began mailing TaB drinkers coupons for their preferred cola, so as to neutralize any collateral damage.”  In this regard, Wu tartly observes:
It was entirely in keeping with the ultimate claim of PRIZM that you could say different things to different people and win them all.  And it goes a long way toward explaining the system’s later importance in politics.
Tim Wu's book: "it goes a long way toward explaining the system’s later importance in politics."

From "Microtargetting" to "Nanotargeting"

With computers and the data we now collect about people, political marketing and targeting of potential voters has gone a long way beyond PRISM.  On a segment of National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered,” broadcast in July, well before the presidential election, Barry Bennett, a former adviser to the Trump campaign and the former campaign manager for Ben Carson, explained to NPR host Robert Siegel the phenomenal precision with which the electorate can be sliced and diced for political action, selective communications, get out the vote operations, etc:
SIEGEL: What about other aspects of, you know, what had been modern political campaigning - microtargeting specific groups, a get-out-the-vote operation, having staff out there? You think it's all going to be proven to be obsolescent in this cycle?

BENNETT: No. No, I think that, you know, what we used to call microtargeting - I guess what we have now must be nanotargeting because we've gotten so much better at it. And we now have personality scores on the voter file. I - not only can I tell if you love or hate guns, but I can tell you what emotional response I can elicit from different kinds of messages.

SIEGEL: This is all to decide whether I'm worth working on to get me to the polls...


SIEGEL: ...Or calling up again.

BENNETT: Whether I want you to vote - go vote or whether I think you're a lost cause. So - I mean, all that has really, really progressed. But I can now target you through Facebook or Twitter or Instagram or even Snapchat because we know a lot more about you. I mean, we used to be very proud that we had, like, 50 sets of data points on you. Now we have 8,000, 9,000, 10,000. And, you know, we can go through every tweet you've ever made and append that to the voter file.
(See: Former Trump Adviser Gives Closer Look At A Non-Traditional Campaign, July 11, 2016.)

It’s frightening enough that U.S. voters can be selectively misled with nano-tailored lies and misrepresentations.  Its frightening too that these lies can be efficiently injected into your little bubble of consciousness through Facebook which acknowledged that during the last leg of the it changed its algorithm to allow more false news favorable to Trump, frightening that there were armies of Twitter bots, a superior one in Trump’s case, to target you for such communications.

Banishing Unwanted Voters

That’s frightening enough, but what’s more frightening is that after a campaign has communicated with you through all the various means at their disposal, and once they have decided it’s not “worth working on” on you to get you “to the polls,” that it’s not worth “calling up again,” and when the decision they have made about whether they “want you to vote” is that they don’t want you to vote. . . . Well, you need to understand that means are being undertaken to ensure that voters, in fact, don’t vote, or that, if you do vote, your vote is not counted.

There are all sorts of ways to neutralize the voters whose votes are not wanted.  Some of the nasty old traditional ones involve deceptive practices like distributing in a neighborhood where you don’t want people to vote, flyers with the wrong date for an election (maybe only in Spanish), or incorrectly informing people like students that they can’t vote.  It can involve insanely long lines to votes in those neighborhoods where voters are to be stymied while there are short lines in neighborhoods where voting is encouraged.  Voters can be suppressed through voter ID laws that become even more effective at discriminating between who can and can’t vote if motor vehicle registration/drivers license/ID offices are shut down in poor and ethnic neighborhoods and if you allow gun licenses to serve as voter ID.

The neutralization of votes can also sometimes show up in the exit polls.  It's because so many of the ways to neutralize votes involve not counting the votes of people who, overcoming other obstacles, believe they actually they succeeded in voting, and whose votes should have been counted, that investigative reporter Greg Palast who specializes in these issues (with many others agreeing with him) thinks that Donald Trump, who lost the popular vote by about 3 million, also did not actually win the electoral vote.  And that, according to a PBS Frontline documentary, is apparently what Trump’s own campaign experts and the nation’s top Republicans believed too.

What spoils things so that the cast votes of voters don’t get counted?: Voting machines so broken or deficient that they are incapable of counting votes is one maneuver.  Such machines get deployed in the particular neighborhoods where votes are to be squelched.  Trump ostensibly won the state of Michigan by just 10,704 counted votes, but Palast calculates that there were more than 75,000 votes in Michigan that went uncounted mostly in “historically Democratic” Detroit and Flint, Michigan, majority-black cities.

Palast in his research, investigation and reporting also focuses in on the voter purges using a Republican-launched company called Crosscheck of thousands, entering the stratosphere of six digit territory,* that converts into uncounted provisional ballots the votes targeted for elimination of voters with Black, Hispanic, Asian and Muslim names.  These eliminations are pretexted on claims the eliminated names, across many different states with Republican governments, are similar enough to suspect either double registration and voting, or voting by convicted felons.**  Palast’s review of the documents and interviews of the perpetrators of these schemes (watchable in his film “The Best Democracy Money Can Buy”) demonstrate the pretexts to be farcical.  As intensely as Republicans loudly crying wolf have searched they have found virtually no evidence of voter fraud (which is punishable by a significant federal sentence of five years in prison.). . .virtually no evidence.

. . . As of now, Trump is fielding new pretexts for purging: suspected non-citizenship, or unacceptable Muslim beliefs.
(* 449,922 voters purged in Michigan, 589,393 purged in North Carolina, 270,824 purged in Arizona.)

(** With an unprecedented level of mass incarcerations, discriminatory in nature the rules against those convicted of felonies voting is a significant disenfranchisement of black voters in itself.)
And finally, as voting forensic expert Jonathan Simon has been covering for fifteen years there is the question of unverifiable voting machines, such as in Pennsylvania that can be hacked and all too likely have been.

Trump Team And Exit Polls Agree In Concluding Trump Did Not Win The Election 

All of this adds up to a huge difference between the counted votes and the probably now more accurate exit polls, which is why those agreeing with Mr. Palast think Trump didn’t actually win the election and why even Trump’s own experts apparently agreed.

The Frontline documentary, “Trump Road To The White House,” is flawed in ways that I someday must write about, but its beginning quoting experts from the Trump team is telling:
On Election Day, Donald Trump and his senior campaign team were huddled at Trump Tower.
    KATY TUR, NBC News
They went into election night believing that they were going to lose.
As the polls close across the country.
AT 5 o'clock they received the first exit polls.
We're counting down to the first poll closings right now.
    DAVID BOSSIE, Trump campaign adviser
 When we got those early returns, the exit polls, and I actually got it about 5:01, we all had a little bit of a gut punch.
If Trump wants to win, he's got to hold onto Florida and North Carolina.
In state after state he was so far behind that I knew that he was going to lose, because the exit polls don't get it wrong.
    TONY FABRIZIO, Trump campaign pollster
We were getting crushed in like Michigan, Pennsylvania. I mean just- and so, from like 6 o'clock on, you know, we're all like, "Oh my god."
And look at all these wins we're projecting for Hillary Clinton right now. Take a look at the electoral map now Hillary Clinton is taking the lead.
It seemed to confirm what the media and political establishment had been saying for months.
Hillary Clinton has a lead in North Carolina.
Donald Trump never had a chance.
And the Clinton campaign is increasingly confident about.
    FRANK LUNTZ, Republican pollster
Every senior Republican that I talked to, with only one exception, thought that Trump was going to lose.
But as the votes were counted in Florida, a surprise.
Yes that’s Republican pollster, Frank Luntz saying: “In state after state he was so far behind that I knew that he was going to lose, because the exit polls don't get it wrong.”

Myths of "Divided Half" of Nation Supporting Trump And That "The Russians Did It"
Along with Times reporting on popularity of dystopian classics, an image of the D.C. Womens March, over one million strong
Nevertheless, Donald Trump was proclaimed the victor in the election.  What, the Tea Party suddenly grew in size and took over the nation?  How so?  Even with the Kochs footing the bills, the Tea Party's biggest ever muster was maybe 70,000.  In contrast, we recently saw millions pouring out across the country, and in Washington D.C. (not to mention the rest of the world), in profound and urgent dissatisfaction with Trump.  The Women's March. The D.C. March alone was almost certainly over one million marchers.
Six of the demonstration cities, clockwise from upper left: Washington D.C., Los Angeles, Denver, Boston, New York City, Austin

Six more of the demonstration cities, clockwise from upper left:Montpelier, San Jose, Asheville ,St. Paul, Indianapolis, San Diago
We have been offered new mythologies to explain the incongruous election result: i.e. that the country has grown exceedingly divided with a huge rise of White nationalism (even as Obama’s, our black president’s, outgoing approval ratings is 58%, the highest favorability rating of any president in 24 years, while Trump’s incoming ratings are the lowest, reported as low as 32%.), or that the Russians “hacked” the election.  Either of these perhaps both absurd excuses for how Trump got pronounced winner of this election is a distraction from the main issue.*
(* Ironically, one of the Times articles quoted above about how `literarily' Orwellian our current plight is, while citing the issue of "fake news," cites as settled truth the Russian interference in our presidential election, which largely unsubstantiated reports may itself involve an unhealthy dose of fake news- emphasis supplied: Not surprisingly, "1984" has found a nervous readership in today's "post-truth" era. It's an era in which misinformation and fake news have proliferated on the web; Russia is flooding the West with propaganda to affect elections and sow doubts about the democratic process.)
Trump Telegraphs More Voter Disenfranchisement To Accompany Increasing Voter Dissatisfaction

It’s increasingly obvious that Donald Trump’s vociferous claims that the popular vote was stolen from him are motivated with the goal of obscuring the reverse: The electoral vote was stolen.

In this regard, even the NY Times, in its tepid grey way, is now giving some notice to an essential thing it and the rest of the media have been regularly neglecting to keep front and center reporting about the election: That voter purges were one of the ways the electoral vote was stolen, and, with Trump’s cranky complaints about too many voters voting against him, the likely plan is to engage in a lot more of these disenfranchising voter purges.  Here from a Times editorial (emphasis supplied):
 Mr. Trump is telegraphing his administration's intent to provide cover for longstanding efforts by Republicans to suppress minority voters by purging voting rolls, imposing onerous identification requirements and curtailing early voting.

 "This is another attempt to undermine our democracy,” said Representative Barbara Lee of California. . .

    * * * *

Voter suppression initiatives have grown increasingly common since the Supreme Court invalidated a central provision of the Voting Rights Act in 2013, making it easier for local authorities to tweak election rules in a manner that disenfranchises particular groups of people.

Under the Obama administration, the Justice Department aggressively fought these efforts. Lawsuits filed by civil rights advocates and the Justice Department led a federal appeals court in 2013 to strike down a North Carolina voter ID law that justices concluded had been designed to target African-American voters with "surgical precision." Litigation in a similar Texas case is now on hold, pending guidance from the new attorney general.
See:  Editorial- The Voter Fraud Fantasy, by The Editorial Board, January 27, 2017

Despite the nod in this editorial, the Times, the paper of record, has done virtually no reporting about either Mr. Palast’s work (unless you roll back decades) or about Crosscheck coordinating Republicans to eliminate voters from the 30 controlled states.

Jim Crow Hatching Eggs
Two similarly themed cartoons by Brooklyn's Mark Hurwitt, both equally eloquent
It’s not just similar names of people who sound like they are likely minorities that these data bases used for purging are keeping track of; Palast in his film points out how the data bases also list whether voters are black or white.

The purging and other forms of voter suppression have been widely recognized as an extension of the old Jim Crow barriers to voting while black.  That’s reason enough why Palast calls Kris Kobach, the Secretary of State from Kansas who is one of those most principally responsible for the deployment of Crosscheck, “Mr. KKK.”  Kansas, (the third “K”) is the home state of the Koch Industries (the nation’s second largest private company with “Kansas and the Kochs being linked nearly inextricably”).
From Palast's: “The Best Democracy Money Can Buy”- Tracking Koch money through to Kobach.
In his film, Mr. Palast follows a money trail from the Koch brothers (Koch, Donor's Trust, Numbers USA, Farmers Branch Texas, Kris Kobach) to trace $100,000 through to Kobach.  He also traces the flow of Koch money through to the Heritage Foundation promoting Crosscheck and the pretextual bases for it.
In his film, Palast reviews a Heritage Foundation brochure, "Does Your Vote Count," toting the work of Crosscheck
Kobach has defended his ties with “The Social Contract Press (TSCP), a group classified by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) as a white nationalist publishing house.”

It is a short step, a micro-millimeter from “we don’t want you to vote because you are black, Asian, or Muslim,” to “we don’t want you to vote because you think that people who are black, Asian, or Muslim should have their votes counted.”  And none of this is far away from “anyone who disagrees with us should have no say in running the government.”

Gerrymandering To Neutralize Your Vote based On What You Read

Before we move on, there is another way in which the votes of undesirable voters can be naturalized: Gerrymandering.  Because of gerrymandering, the composition of the House of Representatives does not mirror the electorate. In 2012, the Democrats got 1.4 million more votes (counted votes) than the Republicans for the House of Representatives and yet could not take control of the chamber. This puts the Democrats at a horrible disadvantage, something that is rarely mentioned and not clearly explained by papers like the New York Times.

Once again, everything the manipulators know about you from your ethnicity to the increasingly available micro variables indicative about how you think, like the magazine subscriptions you order for your reading, can be used in calculating whether they want to neutralize the effect of your vote. David Daley,  the publisher of the Connecticut Mirror, is the author of a new book on gerrymandering, titled “Rat-f**ked: The True Story Behind the Secret Plan to Steal America's Democracy,” has explained what current technology means in the regard (emphasis supplied):
Gerrymandering, over the years, has certainly been a bipartisan game. Both sides have done it for a long, long time. However, the difference here really is the technology. What you have right now is a program called Maptitude. It is a - an extremely powerful program. It comes preloaded with all of the census data, with all of the demographics and ethnicity and economic data you could possibly imagine. Then you can add on to that all of the public record data sets, voting records. You can add on to it a cloud's worth of consumer preferences, of magazine subscriptions, of ZIP Code data. This wasn't the case in 2000, it wasn't the case in 1990. It certainly wasn't the case in 1810. A partisan mapmaker right now has so much information in front of them that they can draw lines that are essentially unbeatable for a decade.
See: On The Media- How the Election Is Actually Rigged, Oct 21, 2016.

If they know enough about you and your neighbors to peg you as undesirable voters, then about the only way you won’t suffer the neutralizing effects of gerrymander is if you live in a community that is just too homogeneously interlinked for them to draw the lines they way they would like.

This gets us back to those people reading books about dystopian fascism.  Haven’t those book readers now self-identified themselves, at least to Amazon, as part of a national subset who would, in certain eyes, constitute undesirable voters?   People, who for instance might be likely to “think that people who are black, Asian, or Muslim should have their votes counted.” . .

. . . And, if you have gotten at least this far reading this article, you probably do “think that people who are black, Asian, or Muslim should have their votes counted.”   Thus your reading of this article probably also identifies you to certain people as someone undesirable to vote- (Sorry. Too bad you looked!)

How Fascist Governments Look Askance At The Readers of Books

The reading of books has always had a touchy relationship with totalitarian regimes.  In this day and age the ability simply to monitor what books are being read is probably an initial first stage satisfactory in and of itself especially when coupled with the ability to regulate voting.  But in countries like Hitler’s Nazi Germany and Pinocette’s Chilean dictatorship (supported by the Unites States), books that had content that was perceived to be threatening were banned and burned.  Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451" dystopia conceptualized a government that banned all books as being too intrinsically likely to the stimulation of individualist thought.

All communications, not just books, are important to authoritarian governments because the government wants to control the messages.  In “Fahrenheit 451" the populace, not reading books, pays constant attention to large viewing screens taking up entire walls displaying government promoted broadcast media.  Most of our media broadcast on the public airwaves, skimpy on real news (like the minimal reporting about Crosscheck by the Times) come to us via a few corporate conglomerates with plenty of government interrelationships.  The corporate mainstream media was certainly complicit every step of the way into getting to the final declaration that Trump had somehow won the presidency.
The latest update about doing away with net neutrality and other FCC rules to protect the public?
Trump and comrades moved first day to rewrite and eliminate information from government websites, including the eradication of available information about global warning and climate change.  The information flowing through to us is likely to become much more constrained if the predicted move to dispense with net neutrality under the Trump administration succeeds.  In that case, the flow of information from the corporate conglomerates is apt to be prioritized above all else.

And here is another thing to think about when it comes to our modern day computer existence where our parallel virtual selves exist electronically in the new social media agora where bouncing electrons supplant physical contact: It's not just your vote that can be squelched, it's you voice that can be squelched too.  With surveillance and social media interaction the government has the tools to tamp down and see to it that the message does not get through from those who are influencers and who might cause others to vote a way they would not like.

Surveillance And Libraries

Indicative of how important what people may be reading in books is, in 2006, it was revealed that there had been a longstanding fight secretly going on since the initiation of the PATRIOT Act with the government wanting to surveil libraries and librarians resisting.  The fight was secret because the librarians were subject to a gag order not to reveal what the government was seeking to do.  Librarians were the first to ever win a fight against the PATRIOT Act, protecting the libraries as zones of privacy.

Perhaps, you’d like to repair to your local public library if you want to read novels and other books about fascist dystopias, especially if you think that Amazon, with nothing to stop it, would be too likely to pass your information on to the government?  The problem is that the fight about surveillance of reading in the libraries has continued.  Further, the introduction of digital books (Amazon is the unquestionable leader in that field) and computer interfaces for accessing books, which may be increasingly kept off site, results in a more recent sort of de facto end run around the victory for privacy it was announced that librarians had won in 2006.  Point of disclosure: I am co-founder of Citizens Defending Libraries and have testified on this exact subject before the New York City Council (video also available).

Beyond surveillance, digital books and their content also have a creepy impermanence: The content of digital books (like material on the web) can be altered even as your read them and, as famously happened with Amazon's deletion of George Orwell's "1984" from the tablets of people Amazon had sold them to.

The Role Surveillance Plays In Authoritarian Societies

On Thursday, February 2nd Amy Goodman on Democracy Now asked journalist and author Andrea Pitzer to “describe the role mass surveillance plays in authoritarian societies.”  (Pitzer, who writes about “lost and forgotten history,” is the author of the soon to be out “One Long Night: A Global History of Concentration Camps,” i.e. those of the Holocaust, in the Philippines, Southern Africa, the Soviet Gulag, detention camps in China and North Korea, Guantanamo.)

Responded Pitzer:
Well, over time, we've seen that it's very hard to have an authoritarian or a totalitarian society, a state that runs, without a secret police. And you can't-what you need the secret police for is to gather information secretly. The surveillance techniques and abilities that we have today are really unparalleled in history. And while we can't yet be sure what the Trump administration's motives are, what they have at their disposal is far greater than what was had in Soviet Russia, in Nazi Germany. I'm thinking in particular of Himmler complaining that he had trouble keeping track of all the people he needed to, because he needed so many agents. But when you have the kind of technology that we do, you don't need as many people, if you have the right tools to use. And so, the ability to gather that kind of information and then potentially use it, domestically or on foreigners who happen to be here, I think is something that's worth paying attention to and to be concerned about.
The Unholy Amalgam of Surveillance, Profiling and Voter Suppression (And White Supremacy)

Now, with the ascendancy of the Trump administration to power, we see new thresholds apparently about to be crossed in terms of combining surveillance, profiling and voter suppression.  There has been widespread worry already about Trump's appointment of Steve Bannon, variously described by the new-fangeled euphemism of "alt-right," "white supremacist" and "Nazi," to the National Security Council while demoting and limiting the participation of the director of National Intelligence and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
At the same time the Washington Examiner reported that Trump was likely to appoint the vote-suppressing Kris Kobach with his white supremacist associations to a high position, possibly as secretary, the actual head of, Homeland Security, which engages in a substantial amount of surveillance.  He didn't get the position of secretary but is still up for a high position that could be at Homeland Security.  Kobach was previously at Homeland Security.  He was one of the people in place under Attorney General John Ashcroft ready to spring into action after 9/11 when his job, according to Esquire reporting about his voter suppression effort, was "weeding out foreign travelers in the wake of 9/11-and Kobach's program was so deeply involved in racial profiling that it was shut down."  And to be clear about pedigree, in the spring of 2001, prior to 9/11 Ashcroft was focusing programmatically on the suppression of theoretical double voting and felon "fraud."
Trump meeting with Kris Kobach, prospective appointee to Homeland Security.  Insert on left is close up of Kobach's photographed document with profiling, voter suppression plan.
In November Kobach met with Trump and the Daily Kos ran an article Be afraid, very afraid: Kobach plan as Secry of Homeland Security, by VaallBlue, November 21, 2016 warning that, "Kobach made no effort to hide what he proposed to Trump if he becomes the new head of the DHS.

Mr. Kobach met with president-elect Sunday, November 20th. Standing smilingly beside Trump Kobach held under his arm documents clearly visible and thus photographed that referred to plans about tracking and persecuting Muslims, building a wall and, apparently voter suppression with "a plan to issue regulations about voter rolls along with amending the National Voter Registration Act."  And "Kobach's plan refers to some use of the Patriot Act with some action taken to 'forestall future lawsuits.'"

A converging overlap of surveillance, profiling and voter suppression is deadly to democracy, particularly when those with an agenda are motivated toward the obvious extreme abuse it portends. It means that you can lose your vote when that can simply by reading about fascist dystopias. . .  It's not just that neutralization of your vote that can be effected by boxing you into a gerrymandered district based on what you read, as now is already obviously done.  Although you may be reading this here for the first time, current technology is such that your choice of reading material can target you for having your specific vote purged.  There is nothing to prevent Amazon from passing that information along (he/she read "1984" and "It Can't Happen Here") to a campaign.

And the powers of the government when it comes to such surveillance are even greater.  You can't even go to a library (where increasingly the administrators may want you to read your books more expensively, electronically on Amazon) without serious concerns that the government won't surveil you there too as you try to read these books in privacy.

In 2007 Kris Kobach bragged in an e-mail message sent to state Republicans in Kansas about the party's accomplishments that year, including that “To date, the Kansas GOP has identified and caged more voters in the last 11 months than the previous two years.”  In response to criticism, Christian Morgan, executive director of the Kansas Republican Party, asserted defensively that “caging voters” was “just a term of art,” explaining that `what the party has done is try to identify voters and their views on certain issues,’ “We cage that person's information,” he said.  Then when the election comes around, the GOP will . . .  

The wise axiom "just because a thing can be done, doesn't mean that it should be done" is a longstanding one.  Unfortunately, I am afraid it is an axiom not taken to heart by many of those engaged in the rough and tumble of politics for whom I think the operative concept is that `anything that can be done will be done.'

In Brooklyn, Green Party Holds Voting Justice Even With Palast and Stein

On left, Jabari Brisport Green party candidate for City Council 35th district, Jill Stein middle and Greg Palast on right.  From coverage by Cat April Watters at Hot Indie News.
I had a chance to meet Mr. Palast just recently.  The Green Party in Brooklyn set up a Voting Justice panel discussion of the uncounted votes that featured Mr. Palast and Green Party presidential candidate and vote-count-litigant-challenger Jill Stein (available via a now posted live Facebook stream -47,000 views the last time I looked).  It was the evening of Groundhog Day. Perhaps the Green Party set the discussion up on Groundhog Day for symbolic effect?: With the goal that we don't get into a loop of repeating events where this kind of injustice happens over and over again, self perpetuating and locked in?
From the video stream. Jill Stein at the event.
Mentioning the example of Mr. Kobach I asked the panel (about 1:27 in the video) about the threat of combining voter suppression, profiling and surveillance, all aligned in one package.

It was Jill Stein who replied (at 1:52:43):
Let's see, voting and surveillance: Yes absolutely the surveillance is really awful, problematic. There's all kinds of links between them. In the same way we have to democratize our vote, I think we have to put massive limits on surveillance. And it's not rocket science about how we do that. We really need to stand up and protect our right to privacy and the need for due process and for warrants. . . . We see Trump doing this so blatantly now, trying to just scare us all into thinking, you know we have to lock the Muslims out, and they try to justify it by talking about how scary it is.

Well, the bottom line is that we do not achieve security by building walls: We achieve security by establishing justice. If you want peace at home you need justice abroad. We need to push back this mythology that the only way to be secure is through surveillance. We don't achieve security through surveillance.

It was Benjamin Franklin, I think, who said: "Those who would sacrifice freedom for the sake of security will wind up losing them both."

And that's what's happening!: So we have to say no to both of those intrusions.
Where The Heck Are The Democrats On Protecting Us?

You may ask: `Where are the Democrats? Why isn't Hillary Clinton sounding the alarm? Why did Hillary Clinton jump in to challenge the vote counts only after Jill Stein and the Green Part were already doing so and readily raising millions in a matter of days to do so?'

Most of those attending the Jill Stein, Greg Palast event seemed to concur in a ready answer that agrees with my own: The Democrats are more than a little bit pregnant with vote purging that occurred on their home ground.  In Brooklyn, the borough of New York City where the Groundhog Day Voting Justice panel was held, more than 200,000 Brooklyn democratic voters were, under suspicious circumstances, purged from the voting roles almost certainly helping Hillary declare a triumph over Brooklyn-born Bernie Sanders. And with the Democratic National Committee actively working against Bernie sanders we saw in multiple states the same "red shift" in exit polls with Hillary Clinton (like Trump in the general election) incongruously getting a greater proportion of the votes than people said they cast for her.

Oh, and as for that "Russian hacking"?  Jill Stein said that night: "I 'haven't seen convincing evidence of of the Russian hacking. . . .  I was not looking for Russian hacking, but any hacking, or tampering and not limited to bad guys overseas."   I think that most of those in the room that night agreed that "Russian hacking," while an emotionally satisfying gambit to let Americans off the hook for Trump's so-called election, is just a distraction from the accountability than needs to be demanded of the people who really, in all likelihood, are responsible for stealing the election.

Monday, January 30, 2017

How Big Was Women’s March On Washington (Just in DC Alone)? Here Are A Few Clues (Including That It Was Much, Much Bigger Than The Trump Inaugural And Magnitudes Greater Than The Biggest Tea Party March)

(Click to enlarge- if you dare.) Was D.C. Women's March crowd "over million" marchers by a healthy margin? Probably!  Images of D.C. Metro, eventually too crowed to us from NY1reporting.  See below for aerial comparison views.  Two crowd pictures upper right from avenues north of National Mall.
How big was the Women’s March on Washington?  There were crowds marching everywhere, all over the world and all over the U.S.A.  But how big was the Women’s March on Washington, just the people who were in D.C.?
Click through to see sweeping video of a portion f the Women's March crowds flowing through Washington DC
We know it was really big, bigger by far than the gathering for Donald Trump’s inaugural, but let’s obsess a bit about exactly how much bigger and how big, because it’s fun: The more we obsess, the more fumed DT gets. You know how Trump wants to insist that he had a really big inaugural crowd (asking the Parks Department to scour for pictures as proof) . . . It’s with something of the same urgency that he wanted to tell us he had “big hands.” . .

. . . O.K. Donald: tell us how “big” your hands are: We enjoy all your “alternative facts.”

How big was the Woman’s March crowd?  It’s true that very large crowds like this are hard to count.  A company called Digital Design & Imaging Service, is trying to make an estimate of attendance at the Women’s March and says it will put its data up for others to assess when it is done.
Washington DC.  Washington Monument in distant background.
Meanwhile, some clues:
(click to enlarge) Hard to get a perfect three-way overlay (its best to use the available interactive sliders to do two comparisons at a time), but here are three event overlaid: The Woman's March on right, On left the Trump inaugural with an upper middle square patch showing the much more populous Obama inaugural.
The First Obama Inauguration in 2009 Estimated To Have 1.8 Million People.- Trump Had a Fraction of That and Women’s March Had Multiple of Trump Crowd.  The figure that has long been widely given and accepted for the number of people who attended Obama’s first inaugural address is 1.8 million. Perhaps 460,000 of them were back on the National Mall rather than closer up (it is believed to have been the largest ever crowd in D.C.).  The New York Time recently reiterated this as it made comparisons (via pictures and graphing on a map) of that crowd to the relatively scant groupings of people at the 2017 Trump inaugural.  See: Trump's Inauguration vs. Obama's: Comparing the Crowds, by Tim Wallace, Karen Yourish and Troy Griggs, January 20, 2017.

(One estimate of the size of Obama’s 2013 crowd is about 1 million.)

Professor Keith Still, of Manchester Metropolitan University in England, a crowd safety consultant providing his assessment to the Times, estimated the Trump inaugural at “about one-third the size of Mr. Obama's,” although looking at the side-by-side pictures of the number of people on the mall those days the estimate seems generous to Mr. Trump.
New York Times article: Crowd Scientists Say Women's March in Washington Had 3 Times as Many People as Trump's Inauguration,
In another article (two days later), with more sets of side-by-side pictures and graphs on maps, the New York Times published that the “women's march in Washington was roughly three times the size of the audience at President Trump's inauguration, crowd counting experts said Saturday.”  (The experts: Professor Still again, this time with his colleague, Marcel Altenburg also at Manchester Metropolitan University.)  See: Crowd Scientists Say Women's March in Washington Had 3 Times as Many People as Trump's Inauguration, by Tim Wallace and Alicia Parlapiano, January. 22, 2017.

Does this mean, ergo, that the crowd at the Women’s March was somewhere around the size of the 1.8 million crowd for Obama’s first inauguration?  It would seem like it should put it somewhere near that number and it would be nice if it were that simple and easy to know for sure. People will probably settle on some kind of lesser number when all the analytical dust settles.  A much more seat-of-the-pants estimate from ThinkProgress estimates the Women’s March crowd at just double that of the Trump inaugural.
Interactive CNN overlay with slider for comparison
CNN has a fascinating interactive visual where you can use a slider of fairly exactly overlaid photographs to go back and forth to make enormous crowds either appear or vanish by going back and forth between the Obama 2009 inauguration and Mr. Trump’s.  CNN also gives that Obama attendance figure at 1.8 million.
Interactive USA overlay with slider for comparison: Trump inaugural left vs. Woman's March right
And, oh joy, USA Today has such an interactive feature where you can similarly use a slider to go back and forth to compare the crowds between Trump’s Friday inaugural on the 20th and the Woman’s March the next day on Saturday.  PRI has more interactive sliders that do the same thing.  Trump railing about the subject of crowd size when speaking to the CIA the day of the march (with his traveling clap-track- or “claque” in attendance) said that he’s seen an unspecified “network” report his inaugural “drew 250,000 people.”

Washing D.C. Metro System Ridership For Woman’s March Was Second Highest Ever.  The Washington Post reported that, the day of the Women’s March, the Washington D.C. Metro rail system had the second highest ridership day of in the system’s history, 1,001,616 trips.  The highest in history was Obama’s 2009 inauguration, 1,120,000 trips.  Obviously, even though this Saturday figure for the Women’s march is 89% of the figure for the Obama inauguration day it doesn’t mean that the Woman’s March crowd was 89% of the 1.8 million from 2009.  That’s because there are other users of the system, a base number of riders to start with.  And with to and fro, each ride does not represent a single person each.

As a barometer, on Saturday, September 12, 2009, the day of the Taxpayers March by the Koch brothers funded Tea Party, the total DC Metro rail ride figures for the system came out to a total of 437,000, which was, according to Los Angeles Times reporting, 87,000 over the average daily ridership of 350,000. That accompanied an  “expert” research professor crowd estimation of about 60,000 to 70,000 for that crowd at the beginning of the event.*  The Washington Post reports that 570,000 trips were taken on the rail system the day of Donald Trump's inauguration.
(* Looking at pictures to gauge the size of this largest ever Tea Party rally can be deceiving because some of the people looking to brag about the size of the crowd put up a picture of someone else’s event apparently from the 1990's when the buildings on the National Mall weren’t even the same- “alternative fact” visuals?  Also in the `false crowd image’ category is that Trump’s campaign apparently hired a crowd of actors, $50 per, to cheer him when he made his June 16, 2015 announcement that he was running for president, arriving in the lobby of Trump Tower descending an escalator. .  And then it didn’t pay the $12,000 bill for the actors until October.)
If the daily D.C. Metro ridership is roughly near the 350,000 it used to be then, by subtraction, the other differences in ridership would work out to: 220,000 extra rides the day of the Trump inauguration, 651,616 extra rides the day of the Women’s March, and 770,000 extra rides the day of the 2009 Obama inauguration. . . If proportionate ridership was a perfect measure, then Trump’s crowd would be about 28.57% the size of Obama’s 1.8 million (514,260) and the Women’s March would be about 84.6% the size of Obama’s 1.8 million (1,522,800).

Click through to watch fast motion video of a zillion Woamen's Marchers in Lincoln Park Washington DC (a mile and a half away) walking two miles to the march because the DC metro was too jammed to handle so many people and walking was faster.
But ridership is not a perfect measure.  I went to the Women’s March and our bus, due to problems, was late starting out and getting there (so much for getting up in NYC at 3:30 AM).  When it arrived with other buses behind us, the forty or so people from my bus were advised not to use the Metro because it was too overcrowded.  We all took the advice that it would be quicker (about an hour) to walk the two miles from RFK Stadium and like so many others, we did.  Returning at the end of the day, we walked again, an hour and half with another stream of marchers, because the line to get into the entrance of the DC Metro was two blocks long.

Marchers waiting "in line?" at Shady Grove station to get into Washington DC Metro station to go to the March.
Other friends of ours who also came by bus didn’t use the D.C. Metro because they successfully arranged to have their bus drop them off and pick them up close to the site of the march.

Those who traveled to D.C. by train, and there were many of them, got into Union Station, a close walk to the march and probably never used the Metro either.  Some people stayed with friends or at a hotel nearby enough to walk.

One thing that probably helped the 2009 Obama inaugural crowd attain the size that it did is that Washington D.C. is a largely black town in terms of its inner citizenry: There were certainly a lot of people nearby to the mall who had an interest in attending the inauguration of the nation’s first black president, and, if we may venture an understatement, probably had much less of an inclination to attend Trump’s . .

. . As we walked our hour-and-a-half return to the stadium we saw people arriving at a church with an apparently mostly black congregation who were apparently returned from the Women’s March. Going to and from the march, as we walked through a neighborhood that seemed to have a significant black population we were, time and again, warmly greeted by residents.  Along much of way, obviously the result of some organizing effort, there were a multitude of signs in the front yards with marvelous quotes from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Quotes like:
•    “Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.”
•    “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”
•    “In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”
•    “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
•    “Never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was legal.”
It did not immediately occur to me that these signs might have been, not only for our viewing, but also for attendees of the Trump inaugural the previous day, although those attendees would have been less likely to have been walking two miles due to a overcrowded Metro system.  By the way: The day of the Trump inauguration there were also many people there to protest, not applaud.
I grabbed my camera: Here's a small fraction of the parked buses we were rolling by.
Requested Bus Permits For Trump Inauguration Were Less Than On-Quarter Those For the Women’s March.  In the days leading up to the Trump inauguration and Woman’s March it was clear that the escalating number of city bus parking permits for the respective events meant that the bus-delivered attendance component of the attendance at the march was far outpacing that of the inaugural.  By January 18th, two days before the inaugural, the Chicago Tribune was reporting that 1,800 buses had registered to park in the city on the day of the march while “in contrast” approximately 400 buses (22.22% as many) had registered to park in the city the day of the inauguration.

How many finally arrived in the end?  Reportedly, charter bus parking spaces that can be available at RFK Stadium number 1200.  That’s just one of the locations buses could park in the city.   As of the 15th The Hill reported they had all been booked for the day of the Women’s March.  It’s anecdotal, but when our bus arrived to park at the stadium it was one, like other buses before and after it, that the parking lot managers were directing to park on the grass rather than the asphalt, indicating the lot was over capacity.

Other Indicators? 

It is important to remember that the crowd of the Women’s March was everywhere in the city.  It was not only on the Mall, but all the side streets and avenues.  I realized this when I reached an intersection and in all four directions, as far as I could see, I saw crowds bigger than I had ever seen before.  The Woman’s March in Washington was just one location in the U.S. that day where the crowd arriving was so unexpectedly large that the idea of routing it on a formally directed march route had to be abandoned.. .   So when one compares visuals of Obama’s 2009 inaugural with the Women’s March one needs to think about how far the crowds were roaming for the March.
Obama 2009 inauguration crowd
Enlargement of area of photo above that shows the absence of a crowd far back near the Washington Monument
Picture from a New York Times article of pictures from around the world with Washington Monument much closer in the background shows how crowds in Washington D.C. roamed all the back at the Monument. 
Although pictures of the 2009 Obama inaugural looking over the Mall toward the Capital where the inauguration was held show thick crowds coming back all the way into the foreground (i.e. towards the Washington Monument), pictures of that inaugural looking back the other way, where you can see even further toward the Washington Monument, show that there was space vacant of crowds way back close to the Washington Monument, far form the inaugural itself.  The New York Times, starting off its article of collected pictures from around the world, showed this same space crammed with Women’s March marchers.

“Summing” Up

It will be a while before people settle on their conclusions about how many people were at the D.C. Women’s March.  When we arrived at the RFK Stadium parking lot with still another hour’s walk to go before we joined the crowd, city employees ushering us on our way were relaying to us that the reports they’d received before 11:00 AM said the crowd we were headed to join had already topped 500,000. . . . The Million Man March of October 12, 1995, originally estimated by the Parks Service at just 400,000 marchers was ultimately more formally estimated by experts at around 837,000 (The service doesn’t do estimates anymore).

When we got back to New York City (where there had been one of the many sister Woman’s March that same day clogging the streets for hours- 400,000 according to a New York Times article lamenting the insufficiency of NYC public gathering space, vital cornerstones essential to democratic ideals that they are), our local NY1 news station reported that the D.C. Woman’s March had a crowd of over one million.  Could that be the number?  While we will probably never know for sure, whatever the number, when zeroed in, may ultimately have been, it seems safe to say that there is a good possibility that. in D.C. alone. the number exceeded one million by a very healthy amount. . .

. . .  That said, obsessing further almost doesn’t matter because the D.C. march was just one of the marches that was held that Saturday.  There were sister marches of remarkable proportions with millions more jamming the streets and plazas and public spaces of cities, towns and, localities all around the U.S., and all around the world.  (National Notice published images of crowds at more than 80 U.S. localities, while naming and linking to such images from other cities around the world.)

To know the numbers of all those other marches will take a whole lot more of this kind of obsessive calculation. . . Has there ever been a larger demonstration all around this country or the world?- Probably not.

. . . To be continued?
From National Notice collection of Women's March crowd images at 80+ localities in U.S.A.: six of the demonstration cities, clockwise from upper left: Washington D.C., Los Angeles, Denver, Boston, New York City, Austin
From National Notice collection of Women's March crowd images at 80+ localities in U.S.A.: six more of the demonstration cities, clockwise from upper left:Montpelier, San Jose, Asheville ,St. Paul, Indianapolis, San Diago