who can give up essential
liberty to obtain a little temporary
safety, deserve neither liberty
-- Benjamin Franklin
"All governments lie and nothing
say should be believed."
"Power tends to corrupt, and
absolute power corrupts
absolutely. Great men
almost always bad men."
mass shooting in America'
2. Edward Snowden, Glenn
Greenwald & David Miranda Call
for Global Privacy Treaty
3. ISIS, The New Israel
4. Bernie Sanders’ Money Haul
Should Make Hillary Clinton
5. A Psychologist Puts Trump and the GOP on the Couch
6. Why the Washington Post’s
Attack on Bernie Sanders is
This is a Nederlog
of Friday, October 2, 2015.
This is a crisis
blog. There are 6 items with 6 dotted links: Item 1
is about a recent mass shooting, and tries (briefly) to investigate how
have been killed in mass shootings since 9/11, without finding
except that it is very probably a lot more than the many victims of
9/11; item 2 is a fine article about an initiative
by Snowden, Miranda and Greenwald that I welcome; item 3
is the report of a conversation between Alnasseri and Hedges
that gives some interesting information about the attractions of Isis; item 4 is
an interesting article about the fact that Sanders is currently pulling
as much money (from the many) as Clinton does (from the few); item 5 is about a psychologist's explanation
of the GOP (which I reject, and replace by a more plausible sociological
one); and item 6 is about Reich's rebuttal of an
Sanders, which is mainly here because I like both (without agreeing
1. 'Another mass shooting in America'
item today is an article by Chris McGreal, Amanda Holpuch, Eric McCann
and Jason Wilson on The Guardian:
This starts as follows:
The US is reeling from
another school shooting, the 45th this year, after a 26-year-old gunman murdered as many as nine people and
wounded seven more at a community college in Oregon before he was
In fact, this is here
mostly because of the "Another" in the title plus the difficulty of
finding out how many victims fell in how many mass
shootings - for there are many mass shootings in the USA and
they make many victims.
But first the
president, who complained:
Hours after the killings,
President Obama, clearly agitated at making his 15th statement on
shootings since taking office, said “There’s been another mass
shooting in America” and spoke of the country being numbed by the
“As I said just a few
months ago and I said a few months
before that and each time we see one of these mass shootings, our
thoughts and prayers are not enough. It does nothing to prevent this
carnage being inflicted some place in America, next week or a couple of
months from now,” the president said. “Somehow this has become routine.”
president seems to be saying that "thoughts and prayers" achieved precisely "nothing to prevent this
carnage being inflicted some place in America", which seems quite sensible to an atheist like me,
but is at least a bit doubtful from "a committed Christian".
But I leave this for
what it is and turn to the real thema of this review:
Since Obama’s reelection
in November 2012 there have been
993 mass shooting events in the United States, not including Umpqua. Almost 300 of them have occurred in 2015.
That means that there is nearly every day a mass shooting in the USA.
But one problem is that "mass shooting" is not clearly defined, if I
judge by Wikipedia, which has an item Mass shooting,
that starts as follows (quoted minus note numbers):
refers to an incident involving multiple victims of gun
violence. There is no official definition or criteria according to criminologists
and United States officials from the Federal Bureau of Investigation
While the U.S. has 5% of the world's population, 31% of public mass
shootings occur in the U.S.
Not only that: There is no unanimity on their number,
though this appears to be around once a day, nor are there easily
findable numbers for the mortal victims in these
(almost) daily mass shootings.
While there is a fair amount of text in the
lemma Mass shooting there is
nowhere a number of victims (indeed also not if I know them, as e.g. is
the case fpr the
Norwegian mass murderer Breivik).
Mass shootings and the
frequencies of these mass shootings in the USA also are a bit doubtful.
This is from the Wikipedia lemma (minus note numbers):
In 2015, The
Washington Post reported 204 mass shootings
occurring in the U.S. in that year alone, according to
ShootingTracker.com. In August 2015, the Washington Post reported that
the United States was
averaging one mass shooting per day.
But it seems none of the compilers of the item knows
how many were shot altogether in "one mass shooting per day".
Supposing that number to be correct and to
hold since 2001, there were 25,550 persons killed in these "one mass
shooting per day" if the average number of those killed is put
at 5. (There are three
assumptions here, not because I like assuming things, but because
the right numbers are hard to find.)
But I really don't know - except that it seems a fair guess
that considerably more persons were killed in the USA in mass
shootings than by "Muslim terrorists", also when one includes
the many deaths of 9/11.
2. Edward Snowden, Glenn Greenwald & David
Miranda Call for Global Privacy Treaty
article today is
by - it seems: there is no explicit author mentioned - Edward Snowden,
David Miranda and Glenn Greenwald:
This starts as follows:
whistleblower Edward Snowden, Pulitzer
Prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald, Brazilian privacy activist
David Miranda and others have launched a new campaign to establish
global privacy standards. The proposed International Treaty on the
Right to Privacy, Protection Against Improper Surveillance and
Protection of Whistleblowers would require states to ban mass data
collection and implement public oversight of national security
programs. The treaty would also require states to offer asylum to
whistleblowers. It is being dubbed the "Snowden Treaty."
That seems a very good
me. In the rest of this review I only discuss text of Edward Snowden,
not because the other two don't have anything interesting to say, but
simply for reasons of space.
We’ve already changed culture. We can discuss things now that five
years back, if you had brought them up in a serious conversation, would
have gotten you sort of labelled as a conspiracy theorist or someone
who really was a—was not really thinking about what governments
reasonably are likely to do. Now, the danger of this is that we’re
always living in a circumstance where governments go a little bit
further than what any public would approve of if we knew the full
details of government.
Now that we’ve
at least the bare facts of what’s going
on in the arena of our basic liberties, what happens as we transit
through a city, as we talk to our friends, as we we engage with family,
as we browse books online, all of these things are being tracked,
they’re being intercepted, they’re being recorded. They’re being
indexed into a sort of surveillance time machine that allows
institutions that hold great powers, whether they are public
institutions, whether they’re private institutions, such as
corporations—they’re empowering themselves at the expense of the public.
Yes, precisely - and as I
have been saying since 2005 (here,
in Dutch): I think that was the main point: Governments and
private corporations that enormously increased their own
on the pretext of doing so "to fight terrorism".
And as was just
we see that in many countries around the
world governments are aggressively pressing for more power, more
authority, more surveillance rather than less. And this is not just in
foreign states. This is not just in what we would consider traditional
adversary states such as, you know, Iran, China, Russia, North Korea,
whoever you’re really afraid of. It’s not just people who are different
from us. This has happened in Australia, where they now have mandatory
retention of everyone’s data without regard to whether they’re involved
in any sort of criminal activity or if they’ve even fallen under any
sort of criminal suspicion. We see the same proposals put forth and
adopted in Canada. We see the same thing occurring in the United
Kingdom. We’ve seen the same thing pass in France.
And what’s extraordinary
about this is that, in every case, these
policy proposals that work against the public are being billed as
public safety programs.
And these are lies:
This is not done for the safety of the public but to increase
the power of the
governments and of the private corporations who help collecting them,
but mainly of the governments (which are very small groups of
And so, this raises the
question: Why are programs being billed as
public safety programs when they have no corresponding public safety
benefit? And the unfortunate reality is that while these programs do
have value—you know, the government is not doing this for absolutely no
reason—the value that they have is based on intelligence collection.
Precisely - but even
that is not enough: Their value is based on intelligence collection that scouts
people who are not very ordinary consumers, and who think
themselves (not necessarily rationally).
This is not a problem
exclusive to the United States or the National Security Agency or the FBI
or the Department of Justice or any agency of government anywhere. This
is a global problem that affects all of us. What’s happening here
happens in France, it happens in the U.K., it happens in every country,
in every place, to every person. And what we have to do is we have to
have a discussion. We have to come forward with proposals, to go, "How
do we assert what our rights are, traditionally and digitally, and
ensure that we not just can enjoy them, but we can protect them, we can
rely upon them, and we can count on our representatives of government
to defend these rights rather than working against them?"
Yes, precisely - but
anonymous "we" cannot protect our rights when all our private
information is stolen by the NSA, the GCHQ and all other
govermental secret institutions that enormously increased the
the very few who govern, and we also can count on the
solid majority of "our
representatives of government" not
"to defend these rights": Most work for the very few who
have power, and want more power instead of more democratic
This is a good article that
deserves full reading.
The New Israel
next article today is
by - it seems - Sabah Alnasseri and Chris Hedges, on the Real News
This is originally a video,
which you can see by clicking the last dotted link. I did not do so,
since there was a transcript (and I read a lot faster than I speak).
This is from the beginning, and what is excerpted here is excerpted
because it explains various things about the successes of Isis:
(...) the failure of this peaceful, nonviolent revolutions,
this amount of violence, of counterrevolutionary violence, created this
Frankenstein, this phenomenon. So you can say ISIS is a
Hegelian-Fischer synthesis of two form of violence. Now, what is so
interesting about ISIS and why it is so attractive for many young,
unemployed, mostly Arab fighters--most of the fighters, by the way,
they come from Libya or Tunisia and so on, less from Europe, etc. It's
mostly from the Middle East. What attracted them to ISIS is that when
these peaceful revolution failed, revolutions turn into kind of
jihadism, that ISIS is much more effective in its leadership,
organization, logistical structure, and its geologies, than all the
other peaceful, nonviolent movements, mass movements
OK - but because Isis is
not peaceful, it also has (in principle, at least) a lot more
for those who take part in it, as we also shall see below.
Next, on the same theme of the attractions of Isis there is this:
ALNASSERI: So what
I was saying is the
first type of violence was the
physical military intervention of violence. The second one is the
systemic corruption, the expropriation and dispossession of the
majority of the people of their resources, public resources. And this
is very clear in Iraq. The way the United States institutionalized the
political system and all these formula of muhasasa, you know,
power-sharing formula, it actually debriefed all the Iraqi people from
the access to the public resources they used to have.
So here are three
the attractions of Isis: First, the "military intervention of violence"; second, " the
systemic corruption, the expropriation and dispossession of the
majority of the people",
and third, the fact that in Iraq the fall was deep, for many, for there
strong middle class.
HEDGES: And I
think we should just interject here by saying that before the war, Iraq
had a very vibrant middle class.
Here there are some details about the attractions of Isis:
Exactly. In May
2003, the privatization and the institutionalization of the U.S.
strategy of shock and awe, which is state-sponsored terror, on the one
hand, and cash, corruption, using money to buy and corrupt some forces
in Iraq, it was institutionalized. So the outcome of this: you have one
of the most corrupt states on the face of this earth. So the majority
of the people in the Middle East, the absolute majority--up to 65
percent under 24 in Iraq--45 percent of the young people are under 14.
So it's the youngest population probably on a worldwide scale. Now,
what do they see? They see at the top of the state a systemic
corruption, you know, the systematic plundering of the resources of the
country, and they transfer all these resources to outside the country.
There's no health care, no education, no jobs, no pension, no nothing.
On the other hand, they see ISIS. Okay. They pay you $500 a month and
they share with you any resources they plunder, be it oil or gas or
That is to say: Mostly very
young people, who have seen the violence, the terror and the enormous
corruption, and are offered $500 a month to fight, plus a share in the
resources that Isis takes.
Not only does Isis pay its fighters and share with them, they are also
good against corruption:
HEDGES: These are the
And that is a final detail: In
Iraq - according to Alnasseri, to be sure, but he is an Iraqi,
originally - the leaders of Isis aare mostly former "Iraqi bureaucrats and officers and generals".
The fighters. And if they occupy a territory, if there's oil, gas,
whatever resources they take, they redistribute the resources among
their followers and they collect taxes.
HEDGES: And they're very good
ALNASSERI: And they're good against corruption. And
they bring services, basic service to the people. In Mosul now you have
electricity, but not Baghdad and Basra. Why is this the case? Because
most of the--at least the leadership of ISIS, most of them used to be
Iraqi bureaucrats and officers and generals, people who have enormous
institutional experience. They know how to run things compared to the
current corrupt political class in Iraq. So they know how to deal with
this everyday life. They know how to bring services to the people.
I say - but it does explain several things about the
Isis, and this
is a good interview that deserves full reading.
4. Bernie Sanders’ Money Haul Should Make
Hillary Clinton Nervous
The next article is
by Eugene Robinson on Truthdig:
This starts as
First came the big
crowds, now comes the big money. At this point, anyone who doesn’t take
Bernie Sanders seriously must not be paying
announced that it raised an eye-bugging $26 million in the third
quarter—essentially matching the $28 million raised during those three
months by Hillary Clinton, long considered the
presumptive Democratic nominee. If that doesn’t make Clintonistas
nervous, they need defibrillation.
On paper, Sanders is
wildly unlikely as a Democratic nominee. He’s hardly even a Democrat—he
represents Vermont in the Senate as an independent. He proudly
describes himself as a socialist, hanging around his own neck a label
that is supposed to be fatal in American politics. And he’s 74, making
him the eldest among the Democrats’ gerontocratic field.
Yet polls show Sanders
leading Clinton in New Hampshire and essentially tied with her in Iowa.
It is possible that Clinton could lose the first two primary states and
still win the nomination, but only two Democrats have accomplished this
feat—Bill Clinton, who didn’t even campaign in Iowa in 1992, and George
McGovern, for whom the subsequent 1972 general election did not work
I say - and it is
especially the fact that Sanders pulls about as much money lately as
does Clinton, which is pretty amazing, also because Sanders mostly gets
his money from many small donors, while Clinton gets her money mostly
from a few big donors.
Here is Robinson's
explanation for Sanders' success (so far):
I believe his success to
date is due to insight and ideology. Sanders was perceptive enough to
frame a message that is perfect for the zeitgeist: The system is rigged
to benefit the rich and powerful at the expense of everyone else. And
having identified the problem, he offers clear and internally
Sanders wants truly
universal health care—something Clinton, too, once supported. He wants
child care and family leave for all. He wants tuition to be free at
every public university in the nation. He wants to expand Social
Security benefits, not cut them back. He wants to raise taxes on those
who can afford to pay. He wants to expand the scope of government as
instrument of the popular will and guarantor of the people’s well-being.
This clarion call arrives
at a time when polls show that Americans across the political spectrum
are disillusioned by politics, fed up with politicians and worried
about the state of the nation.
5. A Psychologist Puts Trump and the GOP on the
The next article is
by Michael Bader on AlterNet:
This starts as
follows (and was chosen by me in part because I am also a psychologist):
I say. Well... I am a
liberal and a psychologist as well, but - as it happens -
But while all
politicians pander and throw authenticity under the bus of political
expediency, the current plague of high-visibility GOP candidates
project two especially pathological themes that they’ve decided will
resonate with the feelings of millions of voters: paranoia and
As a liberal and a
psychologist, I think it’s important to understand the nature and
meaning of this resonance.
I am much more interested in the many who vote than in the
psychology of the few they vote for, though I am willing to agree that
many presidential candidates,
and especially those of the GOP, seem megalomaniac, paranoic or
grandiose to me, in some sense, and indeed also seem
their almost complete
disregard for factual
Bader explains his terms as follows:
paranoia—we’re the greatest, but we have to vigilantly remind ourselves
and everyone else of that fact because we’re also threatened. A great
“us” has to be continually reinforced by invoking threats from a
I do agree on the importance
of Us and Them (as the reader
may check, there are brief entries for both in my Philosophical
Dictionary, indeed since 2004), but I explain them in terms of groupthinking,
and my notion that most groups are more totalitarian
than not (in my - meanwhile quite extensive - experience).
Then Bader says:
You don’t have to
be Sigmund Freud to see
that the adolescent tough-guy primping we see on the GOP presidential
debate stages is the political manifestation of commonplace
psychological mechanisms regularly seen in individuals, namely,
desperate attempts to defend against dangerous and painful feelings and
But who is Bader
addressing here? The GOP candidates or their audience? And supposing
the GOP candidates to be or act as if they are grandiose paranoics,
why would these appeal to their audience? Since the audience is - in
the end -
around 300 million American voters, it seems unlikely that the
also are grandiose paranoics (if the GOP candidates
are), for one thing.
Here is part of Bader's answer:
The answer is that
the threats that grandiose and paranoid attitudes defend against
involve feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, loneliness and
self-hatred—all of which are arguably greater now than ever in our
But this involves at
least three different assumptions: First, most the GOP's
candidates are acting like grandiose paranoics. Second, they are
doing so to appeal to the "feelings
of helplessness, hopelessness, loneliness and self-hatred" in their audience. Third, they are
successful in doing so.
In fact, I think all three assumptions are likely to be false:
"Paranoia" is an
ill-defined term, as is "grandiosity";
even if most
GOPs would act like them, it
seems a large and implausible assumption they are acting like that to
the stated feelings in their (largely unknown) audience; while that
are successful in doing this requires both previous assumptions to hold.
In contrast, my own explanation seems a lot more plausible (but
The main factors that get candidates elected are the stupidity and ignorance
in their audience - and I insist both are statistical facts.
That is: There are many Americans who are neither stupid nor ignorant,
but overall this is a minority.
The majority of the voters are neither intelligent nor learned, and therefore
can be easily manipulated. Politicians know
this, and adapt
their public performances.
And that's it, basically. I agree most of the GOP's candidates seem a
little mad to me, but I don't know them at all. I don't need to
psychoanalyze them either (which is rather difficult to do if one
doesn't know them), for whether they are
elected depends much less on them than on their audiences.
There is also this by Bader:
appeal to an imaginary but reassuring sense of community undergirds all
of these platitudes about American greatness, strength and antipathy
toward the “other.” The latent message is: there is an “us” here, a
great “us” full of power and noble intentions, an “us” to which
everyone can belong as long as we keep “them” away or subjugated in
ways that render them non-threatening (bombing them, building walls,
deportation, etc.). Who doesn’t want to belong? To be part of an
that holds for virtually any group,
and most of these groups generate their own kind of groupthinking.
And I suggest that to explain why
the GOP's candidates act and talk like they do is better
explained by the
mostly sociological considerations of groups and groupthinking,
are both joined to the intellectual average of most groups, that is not high
and not informed.
6. Why the Washington Post’s Attack on Bernie
Sanders is Bunk
article today is by Robert Reich on his site:
This starts as follows:
The Washington Post just
ran an attack on
Bernie Sanders that distorts not only what he’s
saying and seeking but also the basic choices that lie before the
nation. Sanders, writes the Post’s David Fahrenthold,
“is not just a big-spending liberal. And his agenda is not just about
also about control.”
Sanders’s plan for paying
for college with a tax on Wall Street trades would mean “colleges would
This is mostly here because
I like both Bernie Sanders and Robert Reich (without agreeing with them
on all things), and also because it seems as if Reich may have changed
his loyalty (if that is the right word) from Hillary Clinton -
has personally known since 25 years at least - to Bernie Sanders
(which, if true,
seems a good development to me).
Here is part of Reich's answer to Farenthold:
The real problem is too
many young people still can’t afford a
college education. The move toward free public higher education that
the 1950s with the G.I. Bill and was extended in the 1960s by leading
universities was reversed starting in the 1980s because of shrinking
budgets. Tuition has skyrocketed in recent years as states slashed
education spending. It’s time to resurrect that earlier goal.
Here is another bit
of false nonsense by Farenthold:
claims Sanders’s plan for
a single-payer system would put healthcare under the “control” of
But health care is
already largely financed through government subsidies – only
they’re flowing to private for-profit health insurers that are now
consolidating into corporate laviathans.
Anyway - you probably
got the idea: The attack is the usual bit of falsehoods and nonsense