January 13, 2016

Crisis: Encryption, Obama *2, Isis & REAL Terrorism, Hillary vs Bernie
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 Apple’s Tim Cook Lashes Out at White House Officials for
     Being Wishy-Washy on Encryption

2. Obama Offers a First Draft of His Legacy in Last State of
     the Union Speech

3. Here Is the Full Text of Obama's State of the Union

4. America Has Grown Cowardly: ISIS is No Threat to Our
     Existence Whatsoever

5. Hillary “Feels the Bern”

This is a Nederlog of Wednesday, January 13, 2016.

This is a crisis blog. There are 5 items with 5 dotted links: Item 1 is about Tim Cook's position on encryption: still quite sensible; item 2 is about Obama's State of the Union speech, with a decent point from Truthdig and a video for those who care for videos; item 3 is the text of Obama's last SOTU speech; item 4 is about the enormous amounts of misleading propaganda about Isis, and makes a very good point I first made in 2005 (!), and did not see anyone else make; and item 5 is - in fact - about Hillary's popularity among informed and knowledgeable Democrats: Much smaller than Bernie Sanders.

Also, I will have to revise the last crisis index because the html-code is simply too bad.

1. Apple’s Tim Cook Lashes Out at White House Officials for Being Wishy-Washy on Encryption

The first article is by Jenna McLaughlin on The Intercept:
This starts as follows (and continues yesterday's article by McLaughlin, that I also reviewed):

Apple CEO Tim Cook lashed out at the high-level delegation of Obama administration officials who came calling on tech leaders in San Jose last week, criticizing the White House for a lack of leadership and asking the administration to issue a strong public statement defending the use of unbreakable encryption.

The White House should come out and say “no backdoors,” Cook said. That would mean overruling repeated requests from FBI director James Comey and other administration officials that tech companies build some sort of special access for law enforcement into otherwise unbreakable encryption. Technologists agree that any such measure could be exploited by others.

But Attorney General Loretta Lynch responded to Cook by speaking of the “balance” necessary between privacy and national security – a balance that continues to be debated within the administration.

This is somewhat heartening, from my perspective: Cook did the right thing (and no, I am not an Apple Inc. fan).

There is also this, which I think I missed, joined with a fairly crazy comment:
The Washington Post reported in September that the White House had decided not to pursue legislation against unbreakable encryption. But the intelligence community’s top lawyer was quoted in an email saying that that the administration should be “keeping our options open…in the event of a terrorist attack or criminal event where strong encryption can be shown to have hindered law enforcement.”
I think I missed the Washington Post's article. And "the intelligence community’s top lawyer" simply is a liar who wants an authoritarian state where a few totally anonymous government employees know or can know absolutely everything anyone does with a computer or cell-phone.

And there is this on Cook's position:

Despite the growing pressure tech companies are feeling from governments worldwide to stop letting terrorists take advantage of their services, Cook has continued to defend the importance of encryption in protecting all digital transactions—from text messages and e-mails to bank information and medical records.

Cook has been outspoken in his opposition to the idea that we need to sacrifice privacy and digital security for the sake of public safety. During an episode of 60 Minutes on December 20, he said: “We’re America, we should have both.”

He is right. (And again, I am not an Apple Inc. fan, and never was after 1980.)

2. Obama Offers a First Draft of His Legacy in Last State of the Union Speech

The second item is by Kasia Anderson on Truthdig:
This has the following characteristic:

The president struck a congenial yet cocksure pose in delivering his SOTU sendoff, during which he attempted to carry off the impossible task of appearing as all presidents to all voting publics. Over the course of an hour, he shape-shifted from champion of capitalism to populist rattler of Wall Street’s gilded cage, party loyalist to bipartisan apologist, domestic hearth-tender to hawkish terrorist-hunter.

It follows that this provided a setup for self-contradiction, which occurred at various moments throughout his performance, even if the incidents were set apart by a slew of words and ideas. In one example, Obama drew upon right-leaning reasoning and the language of impersonal “trends” and forces to explain the widening gap between the upper and lower income brackets, declaring, “Anyone claiming that America’s economy is in decline is peddling fiction.” But later in the script, he used different terms to frame the Great Recession and its aftermath, veering left while stating just as definitively that “food stamps did not cause the financial crisis—recklessness on Wall Street did.”

I like this because it confirms my own judgements (since the second half of 2009) that Obama basically was a clever fraud, who mostly continued Bush Jr.'s policies, though - I agree - he also indeed mitigated some.

And in case you want to see and hear the speech, here it is:


I didn't see or hear this, mostly because I am not prepared to watch long speeches by professional political liars if I can also read them - and the next item also allows you to read the speech:

3. Here Is the Full Text of Obama's State of the Union Address

The third item is by Mother Jones Washington Bureau on Mother Jones:

This is what the speech is about:

So let’s talk about the future, and four big questions that we as a country have to answer — regardless of who the next President is, or who controls the next Congress.

First, how do we give everyone a fair shot at opportunity and security in this new economy?

Second, how do we make technology work for us, and not against us — especially when it comes to solving urgent challenges like climate change?

Third, how do we keep America safe and lead the world without becoming its policeman?

And finally, how can we make our politics reflect what’s best in us, and not what’s worst?

Let me start with the economy, and a basic fact: the United States of America, right now, has the strongest, most durable economy in the world.

You can read the rest, but I have two observations on the above quotation:

First, all of his points are part of the Democrats' popular agenda, and therefore do not satisfy his "
regardless of who the next President is, or who controls the next Congress".

Second, it simply is false to say that "
the United States of America, right now, has the strongest, most durable economy in the world".

It is true that Obama's policies improved the USA's economy, but since he did not do anything against the big banks, and the big banks are now greater than they were in 2008, and just as explosive and dangerous, I do not think that the USA has "the most durable economy in the world".

4. America Has Grown Cowardly: ISIS is No Threat to Our Existence Whatsoever

This fourth item is by Tom Engelhardt on Alternet and originally on TomDispatch:

This is an interesting article, that makes a good point that is very well worth making, and that I first made in 2005 (!!) and that I did not read since then by anyone else [1].

It starts as follows:

In the two presidential debates that ended the year, focusing in whole or part on “national security,” the only global subject worthy of discussion was — you guessed it — the Islamic State and secondarily immigration and related issues. Media panelists didn’t ask a single question in either debate about China or Russia (other than on the IS-related issue of who might shoot down Russian planes over Syria) or about the relative success of the French right-wing, anti-Islamist National Front Party and its presidential candidate, Marine Le Pen (even though her American analog, Donald Trump, was on stage in one debate and a significant subject of the other)

The main reason to concentrate on Isis and "national security" is this fact, that shows how easy it is to deceive large parts of the American public:

The latest polls indicate that striking numbers of Americans now view the threat of terrorism as the country’s number one danger, see it as a (if not the) critical issue facing us, believe that it and national security should be the government’s top priorities, and are convinced that the terrorists are at present “winning.”

One set of reasons a considerable part of the American public is deceived are these (among other reasons):

You would never know that, if you left out what might be called self-inflicted pain like death by vehicle (more than 33,000 deaths annually), suicide by gun (more than 21,000 annually) or total gun deaths (30,000 annually), and fatal drug overdoses (more than 47,000 annually), this is undoubtedly one of the safest countries on the planet.

This means around 130,000 Americans are killed each year by these causes alone, which means that around 1,820,000 (one million eight hundred twenty thousand) Americans have been killed by these causes in the last 14 years.

One can also concentrate on the gun deaths, and then one gets these figures (and I am using images I also used last year):

Which is to say that [the number killed by terrorists : the number killed by gun violence] = 0.008 = 1 / 125 approximately, in the United States.

Or alternatively there is this (and I know both graphics are not recent, but the point remains the same):

Finally, here is the point I made in 2005 (much more extensively, but in Dutch):

But the Islamic State should also be put in some perspective.  It’s not Nazi Germany. It’s not the Soviet Union. It’s not an existential threat to the United States.  It’s a distinctly self-limited movement, probably only capable of expanding its reach if even more of the region is laid to waste (...)

That is: Russia and China are enormous states with large professional armies and many atomic weapons, and have been opponents of the USA for at least 65 years now... but their dangers are not even discussed in the presidential debates.

These presidential debates, accordingly, are mere propaganda, and are totally false and misleading. (And I think I will translate my article of 2005: It is interesting.)

5. Hillary “Feels the Bern”  

The fifth and last item today is by Michael Krieger on Washington's Blog and originally on libertyblitzkrieg:
This starts as follows:

The recent member vote conducted by progressive organization is downright devastating for Hillary Clinton. The numbers speak for themselves, and demonstrate in no uncertain terms that Hillary Clinton has absolutely zero grassroots support. There isn’t a person in this country who is genuinely excited about Hillary, while Bernie Sanders continues to pack rooms and, as we learned in December, broke the fundraising record for most contributions at this stage in a political campaign at 2.3 million.

The fact that Hillary is still seen as the inevitable nominee simply proves how completely lifeless and corrupt the Democratic establishment is. But don’t take my word for it.

To be sure, is a progressive organization, and its members are not at all a fair sample from the U.S. population, and probably also know considerably more about U.S. politics and politicians than "the average American" [2].

Here are the results for the members of MoveOn:

More than 340,000 MoveOn members participated in our endorsement process. Sanders won with 267,750 votes, or 78.6 percent. “Fellow Democrat Hillary Clinton garnered 49,811 votes (14.6 percent). Martin O’Malley earned 2,949 votes (0.9 percent). There were also 20,155 MoveOn members, or 5.9 percent, who voted against MoveOn making an endorsement now.

Bernie’s vote total and percentage are MoveOn records — the best any presidential candidate has performed in our 17-year history.

Finally, MoveOn is endorsing Bernie for president because MoveOn is our members. MoveOn only endorses candidates for office after formal membership votes, and in this case, the outcome of our internal democratic process was overwhelming: the vast majority of voting MoveOn members want the organization to support Bernie, so that’s what we’re going to do. We’ve pledged to run a 100% positive campaign.

What does this show? It is a fairly large group, but it is not typical for the USA.

But it does seem to show - I think - that among Democrats who do care for politics and are more or less reasonably informed there are not very many Hillary Clinton supporters.

This does not show she will not win the presidential candidacy, but if she does it will because of her name recognition rather than her proposed policies, or so it seems to me.


[1] This is precisely right as I stated it: It is quite possible that others made similar points, but I certainly did not read them - and I am following the news quite well.

In any case, this means that much of what you read in the (main) media is more like propagandan than it is like real information.

[2] I like statistics (provided they are sensible, which they often are not), but it is true that "the average American" also has one ball and one tit, which means that he/she/it is not representative of anyone at all. But what is true is that the member of are not a representative sample from the American population.

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