February 25, 2016

Crisis: Trump, Obama, Jill Stein, Sanders, Apple vs FBI
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With Donald Trump Looming, Should Dems Take a Huge
     Electability Gamble by Nominating Hillary Clinton?

Will Obama's Guantánamo Plan Close the Prison or Just
     Relocate It to a New ZIP Code?

Days of Revolt: The Solution (2/2)
4. Linking Clinton Policies to Poverty, Sanders Lays Out
     Plan to Help Nation's Poor

5. What’s Really at Stake in the Apple Encryption Debate

This is a Nederlog of Thursday, February 25, 2016.

This is a crisis blog. There are 5 items with 5 dotted links: Item 1 is about an article of Glenn Greenwald on the Democratic Party's options (facing Trump); item 2 is about Obama's Guantánamo plans (which are fraudulent, in my opinion); item 3 is about Jill Stein and was rather disappointing; item 4 is about Sanders plan to help the many U.S. poor (Bill Clinton took welfare away from them, making it even harder to survive); and item 5 is about Apple vs FBI: I agree with Apple, but I am also quite skeptical about tech giants. [1]

1. With Donald Trump Looming, Should Dems Take a Huge Electability Gamble by Nominating Hillary Clinton?

This first item is by Glenn Greenwald on The Intercept:
This starts as follows:
Many Democrats will tell you that there has rarely, if ever, been a more menacing or evil presidential candidate than Donald Trump. “Trump is the most dangerous major candidate for president in memory,” pronounced Vox‘s Ezra Klein two weeks ago. With a consensus now emerging that the real estate mogul is the likely GOP nominee, it would stand to reason that the most important factor for many Democrats in choosing their own nominee is electability: meaning, who has the best chance of defeating the GOP Satan in the general election? In light of that, can Democrats really afford to take such a risky gamble by nominating Hillary Clinton?

In virtually every poll, her rival, Bernie Sanders, does better, often much better, in head-to-head match-ups against every possible GOP candidate.
Thiis is the central argument of Glenn Greenwald, which is considerably expanded in the the rest of the article with quite a few graphics plus comments.

I think the argument is correct, although I also agree with Robert Reich - see here - that Ted Cruz is an even more dangerous Republican presidential candidate. But I will leave all this to my readers' interests.

There are two remaining points I want to quote. The first is this:

Then there’s the data about how each candidate is perceived. Put simply, Hillary Clinton is an extremely unpopular political figure. By contrast, even after enduring months of attacks from the Clinton camp and its large number of media surrogates, Sanders remains a popular figure.
I think that is very probably true.

And here is the ending of Glenn Greenwald's article, and here one also has to consider what I left out of this review: Bernie Sanders is more likely to win the presidency against Trump or Cruz - on current polling, is also true - than Hillary Clinton:

But given the lurking possibility of a Trump presidency, is now really the time to gamble on such a risky General Election candidate as Hillary Clinton?
This is a good question, but my answer is that Hillary Clinton is so much entwined with the Democratic Party's leadership that they will if she wins the
presidential candidacy (also if she has an appreciable chance of loosing, indeed).

2. Will Obama's Guantánamo Plan Close the Prison or Just Relocate It to a New ZIP Code?

The second item is by Amy Goodman and Juan González on Democracy Now!:

This starts as follows, and is considerably longer than may seem from my review, for a reason that follows after the next quote:
President Obama has submitted a plan to Congress to close Guantánamo Bay military prison. Despite Obama’s pledge to close the facility as one of his first acts after taking office in 2008, there are still 91 prisoners there, 35 of whom have been cleared for release. Republicans in Congress have repeatedly obstructed his attempts to close the prison. Obama wants to transfer all detainees to their home countries or to U.S. military or civilian prisons.
Yes, this seems a fair summary. The reason I will only quote one more bit is that I found the other person taking part in the conversation talking as if he
is a personal propagandist for Obama, who also loves talking down to persons, and I found him pretty distasteful for these reasons.

So I have just one quote by the other partner in the conversation, and that is correct:

BAHER AZMY: Well, we appreciate the vigor with which he—with which he delivered his condemnation about Guantánamo, but ultimately think the plan is both too late and too little. It is too late, because some of the most obvious features of the plan—transferring cleared detainees—could have been accomplished long ago. There are—the 35 detainees, including a number of our clients, have been cleared for release, some of whom—since 2009, yet they have languished.

And it’s too little, because in addition to the sort of political reality that Ken identified, the plan embraces a broken military commission system as a way to try—charge and try the 9/11 conspirators, as they are called, and simply transfers Guantánamo to U.S. soil. And the president’s condemnation of Guantánamo as being illegitimate doesn’t have to do with its physical space, it has to do with its legal and political space and its embrace of indefinite detention, which he would simply import into the United States and make it a more normalized feature of our legal landscape to be abused by future presidents.

Yes - and indefinite detention without trial is just a way of maintaining concentration camp style of imprisonments inside the USA without calling them such, but this is what Obama wants to achieve: indefinite detention without
any trial on U.S. soil
3. Days of Revolt: The Solution (2/2)

The third item is by Chris Hedges on The Real News:

In fact this is a video by Chris Hedges and teleSUR, and this is part 2 of an interview Chris Hedges had with Jill Stein, who is the Green Party's presidential candidate, and also Chris Hedges' favorite.

In fact, Chris Hedges explained a few days ago on Truthdig why he supports Jill Stein as president. See his
Why I Support Dr. Jill Stein for President - and this is a link to a Nederlog of February 20, where I also give my own opinion.

This is a continuation of this last item + my comments, and is mostly here because I was curious about Jill Stein.

It starts as follows:
HEDGES: So we laid out a little bit in the first segment about this corporate leviathan and its effects, and how it has distorted our political system, what it's done to the political landscape. In the second segment I want to look at response. We touched on a little bit at the end about movements, the importance of movements. You were speaking about the Green Party being a political expression of movements. Of course, we're all starting with tremendous handicaps. We're locked out of, you know, the major systems of communication. We're never going to be able to access the kinds of funds, you know, massive amounts of money. I think, what, the Democrats will spend $1 billion this year. The Republicans will spend $1 billion.Where do we start? What, where--where do we begin?
This is all quite correct in my view, and indeed I would say that the American elections are quite undemocratic, in considerable part because there are only two parties that make a chance of winning the elections; these two parties are both quite corrupt; and anyway the amounts that are being spend are ridiculously high and are impossible to raise by almost anyone.

Anyway - here are Hedges and Stein on why they dislike the Democratic Party:

HEDGES: And yet you've seen the rise of Bernie Sanders, I think his rhetoric on economic inequality you would support and embrace. I mean, I find Bernie, you know, his appeal is that he's acknowledging our reality, which most of the other candidates are not doing , including President Obama. But he's doing it within the toxic space of the Democratic party. And I wonder if that's in many ways ultimately counterproductive to actually building a resistance movement.

STEIN: You know, I don't know what the absolute standard is, here. You know, I know it's not what I would do. I just find the Democratic party is toxic.
I have three remarks on this.

First, there are only two parties that produce candidates that may win the presidency. I agree that is unfair, and I agree that is undemocratic, but these are simply the facts, and if Bernie Sanders wants to be elected he had little or no choice but running as a Democrat.

Second, Bernie Sanders is not a real Democrat: He is a democratic socialist, who also is a credible leftist, and he was most of his life an Independent, rather than a Democrat or a Republican. And see the first point.

Third, I should also say that I have seen very little of Jill Stein (and have read some more) but I don't like her presentation: She shakes her head far too much, and inserts extremely many "you know"s in her texts.

In case you think I am unfair: No, I am not. I am simply reporting on what I saw and I don't dislike Jill Stein. All I am saying is that her presentation is weak, especially for a presidential candidate.

Here is one more quote that shows this:
STEIN: Number one, we stand up. You know, and we're very clear about what we're standing up for. You know, I think you can't go into this, into this fight, worried about the price you're going to pay. Because if you don't go into the fight you know the price that you're going to pay. You know, we're facing extinction right now, as a, as a biosphere. We are undergoing extinction that we will not survive. And some of the predictions--you know, this is, like, aside from the climate, or in addition to the climate.
I am sorry, but I am an intellectual of the same age as Jill Stein, and I find that this brief passage contains five "you know"s in a very unclear argument, that also contains complete tautologies like "We are undergoing extinction that we will not survive".

So all in all - and I read the whole interview - I don't think this made me like
Jill Stein more.

4. Linking Clinton Policies to Poverty, Sanders Lays Out Plan to Help Nation's Poor

The fourth item is b
y Deirdre Fulton on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

In a speech linking policies supported by Hillary Clinton to economic hardships of U.S. children, families, and workers, Bernie Sanders on Wednesday laid out his anti-poverty agenda in Columbia, South Carolina.

Noting that the U.S. "today has the highest poverty rate of nearly any major country on earth because almost all of the new wealth and income is going to the people on top," Sanders lambasted the 1996 welfare reform bill signed into law by then-President Bill Clinton.

"What welfare reform did in my view was to go after some of the weakest and most vulnerable people in this country," Sanders said, before highlighting Hillary Clinton's support (pdf) for the legislation as First Lady.

"During that period, I spoke out against so-called 'welfare reform' because I thought it was scapegoating people who were helpless, people who were very, very vulnerable," he continued. "Secretary Clinton at that time had a very different position on welfare reform. She strongly supported it and worked hard to round up votes for its passage."

I think Bernie Sanders is quite correct, and indeed I also think that destroying welfare was one of the criminal acts of Bill Clinton, who indeed did go after the poorest of the poor, and destroyed the very little they had. And he is also right that Hillary supported him in this.

Here is some more on Sanders' plan:

To address this scourge, Sanders called for the federal minimum wage to be lifted from $7.25 an hour to $15 an hour; proposed a youth jobs program to create 1 million jobs for young Americans; and urged support for a $1 trillion, five-year push to put 13 million Americans to work in good-paying jobs rebuilding roads, bridges and railways.

"What we are going to do in this country if I have anything to say about it is to say if somebody works 40 hours a week, that person is not going to live in poverty," said the U.S. senator from Vermont. "Today the minimum wage of $7.25 is nothing less than a starvation wage."

I agree - and incidentally, Krugman's support for Hillary is just that, and has nothing to do with economics, although Krugman pretends differently.

5. What’s Really at Stake in the Apple Encryption Debate

The fifth item is by Julia Angwin on ProPublica:

This starts as follows:

The FBI’s much-discussed request to Apple can seem innocuous: Help us extract six weeks of encrypted data from the locked iPhone of Syed Farook, an employee of San Bernardino’s health department who spearheaded an attack that killed 14 people. Most people believe Apple should comply.

But the FBI is demanding a lot more than the data on a single phone. It has obtained a court order requiring Apple to build custom surveillance software for the FBI – which computer security expert Dan Guido cleverly dubs an FBiOS.

Once that software exists, it is inevitable that other law enforcement agencies will approach Apple seeking to get it to use the FBiOS to unlock iPhones in other investigations. Already, Apple says it has received U.S. court orders, under the same legal authority, seeking to get it to unlock 12 other devices.

In effect, the FBI is asking for Apple to write software that will provide something the government has sought without success for more than a decade: A “backdoor” that cracks the increasingly sophisticated encryption on consumers’ phones.

First of all, I reject what "most people" think about computers out of hand if they can't program, and most people can't. The reason I do so is not that I look down on people, but that I want assurance that they know what they are talking about when giving opinions, and if you are giving opinions about computers, you should have fair ideas of how they work and how they are programmed.

Second, the demands of the FBI are criminal in my eyes: They completely turn
the Fourth Amendment [2] on its head, for now they require that Apple builts software that allows the FBI to spy on everything and anyone in all they do.

Here is what it comes down to according to Julia Angwin:

What’s at stake in this clash of titans, therefore, is a much larger issue: How far should tech companies go to help the government conduct surveillance of their users.

The court has asked Apple to build special software that would disable the security on the device, and to install that software to the target iPhone as an update. Once the phone is updated with the new software, the FBI will be able to break into it.

My own answers are:

First, they should not help the government to conduct surveillance on their users at all. That is not their function; that is not their task; and the American government is breaking the law since 15 years at least, trying to surveil everybody without any court order or probable cause, which I am certain they do because they want to control everyone (and since the 1960ies also: see
The Pentagon’s secret pre-crime program to know your thoughts, predict your future of three days ago).

Second, the demand that Apple builts software to allow the American government to break in illegally on any computer or cellphone they want to break into is again deeply criminal.

I hope Apple will keep protesting and refusing, but I must admit I am skeptical of tech giants and their public assurances.


[1] For Dutchmen: Today is the day the February Strike of 1941 is being commemorated, and it is with considerable pleasure that I report that Harry Verheij died in 2014, aged 97.

Harry Verheij was one of the sick Stalinist swine of the Dutch CP, who opposed me since 1970. What a sick degenerate immoral hypocritical asshole was he! What an utter liar! What a sick careerist! (Also, since I still have a P&C of 1953 in which he commemorated the death of "the heroic genius Stalin", I may come to quote a few bits from that work. Maybe I will, if I can abstain long enough from throwing up, but not today.)

Incidentally, I missed the death of this monstrous deceiver because I gave up on the Dutch press in 2010, after having read NRC-Handelsblad since 1970: I thought then as I think now that it is almost only propaganda and lies they spread, for which reason I gave up on them.

I found out today, by milling Verheij's name through DuckDuckGo. And yes, I do regularly look at a few Dutch papers, but only superficially and on line, and it is generally unpleasant, that is, unless you like to know the latest amusements for the Dutch masses: On that the Dutch papers are quite good.

[2] Here it is once more:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
-- Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution

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