March 9, 2016

Crisis: Somalians, Snowden, Mexico & NAFTA, Trump as Fascist, Sanders Won
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Nobody Knows the Identity of the 150 People Killed by
     U.S. in Somalia

2. Snowden: FBI Claim That Only Apple Can Unlock Phone
     Is “Bullshit”

Days of Revolt: The New Mexican Revolution
4. The American Fascist
5. Sanders Claims 'Game-Changing' Win as Revolution
     Revs Engine in Michigan


This is a Nederlog of Wednesday, March 9, 2016.

This is a crisis blog. There are 5 items with 5 dotted links: Item 1 is about a Glenn Greenwald article on the propaganda that most Americans seem to believe now; item 2 is about Snowden's recent saying that the FBI's claims against Apple are "bullshit" ("respectfully"); item 3 is about an interview by Chris Hedges with two brave Mexicans, who show what the "free trade" NAFTA really was: A power grab by the very rich, that ruined millions (plus my argument that this may very well be Europe's future); item 4 is about a quite interesting article by Robert Reich, who identifies Trump as a fascist: I think he is basically correct, except that I would term him a neo-fascist (for four reasons I give); and item 5 is about Bernie Sanders' recent win in Michigan: He still can win the presidential candidacy (and if Trump is to be his opponent, his chances are better than Clinton's against the same opponent).

1. Nobody Knows the Identity of the 150 People Killed by U.S. in Somalia

The first item is by Glenn Greenwald on The Intercept (with a title shortened by me):

This starts as follows:

The U.S. used drones and manned aircraft yesterday to drop bombs and missiles on Somalia, ending the lives of at least 150 people. As it virtually always does, the Obama administration instantly claimed that the people killed were “terrorists” and militants — members of the Somali group al Shabaab — but provided no evidence to support that assertion.

Nonetheless, most U.S. media reports contained nothing more than quotes from U.S. officials about what happened, conveyed uncritically and with no skepticism of their accuracy: The dead “fighters … were assembled for what American officials believe was a graduation ceremony and prelude to an imminent attack against American troops,” pronounced the New York Times. So, the official story goes, The Terrorists were that very moment “graduating” — receiving their Terrorist degrees — and about to attack U.S. troops when the U.S. killed them.

Yes, quite so: Absolutely everything most of the U.S. media wrote about the killings of at least 150 persons by U.S, drones is pure propaganda, that merely repeats the governments' pure propaganda, and does not contain any evidence
that the claims they repeat are true.

And in fact the same mindless propaganda happens in Holland, where I can be almost sure that if I listen to the radio news, then I will hear about "terrorists"
most of whose "terrorism" consisted in disagreeing with the government (and not in any act of terror).

It is the same in the USA:

For mindless authoritarians, the words “terrorist” and “militant” have no meaning other than: anyone who dies when my government drops bombs, or, at best, a “terrorist” is anyone my government tells me is a terrorist. Watch how many people today are defending this strike by claiming “terrorists” and “militants” were killed using those definitions
even though they have literally no idea who was killed.

Actually - from my Dutch perspective - it seems worse: "Terrorists" are not only each and everyone the government says are "terrorists" (generally without providing any evidence), but it also extends to anyone who is supposed to have "extremist" or "deviant" opinions of almost any kind.

And at least in Holland part of the reasons for that is that most Dutchmen still respect the government (with extremely little good evidence) and therefore tend to believe it. (And no: not all do, nor do those who do always do so, but to a much too large extent, and without seeing that most governments as a rule speak for the rich rather than for anyone, irrespective of riches.)

I have spoken before about the redefinitions of accepted dictionary meanings by government officials - which is simply a pretty sick and immoral way of lying. (See here.)

Of course Obama's admininstration excels at this:

To begin with, the Obama administration has formally re-defined the term “militant” to mean: “all military-age males in a strike zone” unless “there is explicit intelligence posthumously proving them innocent.” In other words, the U.S. government presumptively regards all adult males it kills as “militants” unless evidence emerges that they were not. It’s an empty, manipulative term of propaganda and nothing else.

Precisely, for it makes the innocent guilty: Their "crime" consists of their ages - which is total baloney. People are innocent until they have been convicted by an objective and proper court, and this is just sick manipulation that completely denies this, and makes everyone guilty because of their ages, and usually without even knowing their names.

There is also this on "the reason" why there are U.S. troops in Africa:

In sum: We need U.S. troops in Africa to launch drone strikes at groups that are trying to attack U.S. troops in Africa. It’s the ultimate self-perpetuating circle of imperialism: We need to deploy troops to other countries in order to attack those who are trying to kill U.S. troops who are deployed there.

Perhaps. But I expect the following argument is at least as often used: (1) All real Americans (with four American grandparents [2]) are Exceptional, Democratic, Honest, and of The Best Intentions; (2) Americans always defend Democracy and Freedom; "ergo" (3) any nation that refuses American troops is dishonest, immoral, undemocratic and against freedom.

I don't think the argument is logically valid in any case - and clearly both (1) and (2) are - again - both pure propaganda and evidently false (for those who
know recent history).

Here is Glenn Greenwald's conclusion:

But for Americans, this is now all perfectly normalized. We just view our president as vested with the intrinsic, divine right, grounded in American exceptionalism, to deem whomever he wants “Bad Guys” and then — with no trial, no process, no accountability — order them killed. He’s the roving, Global Judge, Jury, and Executioner. And we see nothing disturbing or dangerous or even odd about that. We’ve been inculcated to view the world the way a 6-year-old watches cartoons: Bad Guys should be killed, and that’s the end of the story.

I do not say "No", for this is more or less how it works (also in Holland, by the way), but I do have a supplement: This is possible only because very many
American adults are too stupid and too ignorant to recognize the dishonest propaganda they are plied with as dishonest or as propaganda.

For otherwise you can't rationally explain why adults behave as 6-year-olds.

2. Snowden: FBI Claim That Only Apple Can Unlock Phone Is “Bullshit”

The second item is by Jenna McLaughlin on The Intercept:
This starts as follows:

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden says the FBI’s ostensibly last-ditch attempt to unlock San Bernardino shooter Syed Rizwan Farook’s iPhone is a sham.

The FBI last month persuaded a federal judge that the only way to get into the phone was to make Apple write code to undermine its own security protocols. Apple is refusing to comply.

“The FBI says Apple has the ‘exclusive technical means’” to unlock the phone, Snowden said during a discussion at Common Cause’s Blueprint for Democracy conference.

“Respectfully, that’s bullshit,” he said, over a video link from Moscow.

I take it that Snowden was quite right (and see some of the evidence below), and indeed as I.F. Stone (<- Wikipedia) put it "All governments lie and nothing they say should be believed" - which should be understood in the following sense:

Any self-respecting intelligent journalist ought to know that the probability is that any spokesperson for any government lies, propagandizes, and/or leaves out all manner of relevant things, simply because all governments are among the strongest groups in their own countries, that always defend specific interests, that often are the interests of the rich.

And see the previous item.

In fact, the lies of the FBI served two explicit purposes: First, to press Apple to make a program that allows the FBI in fact to access every iPhone. And second, to access every iPhone.

That seems fairly certain to me. And I would also guess that they probably had an implicit conviction, though I have to infer it, rather than that I can quote it:

"Fuck the law! Fuck morality! Fuck decency! Once we have access to everyone's secrets we can blackmail anyone! We WANT everyone's secrets! We WANT all the power over anyone that we can possibly get!"

The reason I am putting it as I did is quite simply that the FBI has been behaving like that for the last 15 years, that is, completely illegally according to the Fourth Amendment (<- Wikipedia) - and by now the NSA and the FBI have most of the data they sought and seek, I am convinced, for they could more or less do as they pleased, in the deepest secret for 13 years, also funded with billions by the American government, until Snowden opened up some of the secrets, and also showed some of the illegalities in 2013.

And here is the evidence that the FBI lied (once again: See I.F. Stone):

Snowden further explained on Twitter: “The global technological consensus is against the FBI,” he wrote — linking to a blog post on the American Civil Liberties Union website explaining exactly how the FBI could have bypassed the iPhone’s auto-erase function on its own. That’s “one example,” he wrote.
The reason for the FBI's lies is that they did not just want that particular iPhone
to be read by them, but that they wanted Apple to write software that allows them to break into any iPhone.

3. Days of Revolt: The New Mexican Revolution

The third item is b
y Chris Hedges on The Real News:
This is a quite interesting interview with two - brave - Mexicans. I will limit my selections to the NAFTA, because I am convinced this also outlines the future history of Europe once the TTIP is signed: It is the same schema as NAFTA, except that it is a lot more powerful.

Here is some background:
JESSICA ALCAZAR: Mexico is living a historical crisis, a crisis that not only has to do with the destruction of the economy but also the destruction of the social tapestry, which is related directly with a plan by the Mexican government over the last 30 years, in complicity with the North American government ever since the start of NAFTA.Yes, [it was signed on] 1994, but it's a plan that had been on the works since 84. The problem in Mexico is not only one of violence, but it's mainly about social rights being stripped away, rights which were won in the revolutionary process of 1917. Such rights allowed anyone to have access to education, health, employment and housing. The state and its Neoliberal politics has been slowly transforming the constitution. This means that the Mexican people have lost all of their constitutional rights. Add to this the Narco Cartels, an international business which not only deal drugs; but also people, organs, and migrants, plus other sources of income for organized crime.
That is, the gift Bill Clinton delivered to the Mexicans was in fact a neo-fascistic deal [1] that succeeded in getting "the Mexican people" to loose "all of their constitutional rights" - within 20 years, though this was also helped by the Narco Cartels (which again are deeply entwined with the Mexican state's officials).

Here is how neoliberalism (or: neoconservatism) really works - and its principle
is to provide all freedoms to the rich, and to take away any legal protection of the poor, so that the rich can do what they want, which is to squeeze all the profits they possibly can from the poor and defenseless:

HEDGES: Let me ask, before I talk to Pauline, how neoliberalism contributed to this crisis.
ALCAZAR: It bears responsibility, because as a result of the signing of [NAFTA] in Mexico, any possibilities of sovereignty were taken from us, even food sovereignty. Since NAFTA the majority of the food we eat today comes from the United States. There is also a big migration problem for the indigenous people, with small farmers leaving to the United States. Such is NAFTA's vortex. There is a bloom of sweatshop factories, mainly car factories; an important industry. These corporations do not bring in employment but offer low wages, were the majority of workers have no rights and are being paid by the hour, 7 pesos and hour (0.385 US Dollars) which is nothing compared to what people use[d] to make.

Clearly, 7 pesos an hour = ca. 1/20th part of the minimum income in the United States, for which reason the very rich Americans love to have Mexicans work for them, at 1/20th of what they would have to pay minimally for the same in the USA. Profits! Profits! Enormous profits for the very rich!

Not only that: Bill Clinton's neo-fascistic gift also ruined 1 to 3 million Mexican farmers:

HEDGES: I think one of the things that many people in the United States don't understand is that after NAFTA anywhere from one to three million Mexican farmers went bankrupt because they couldn't compete with the low price of corn provided by American agribusinesses. So you had huge numbers of families that, because of NAFTA, became destitute.
All with the greatest thanks to Bill Clinton (<- Wikipedia) and Robert Rubin (<- Wikipedia), who love the American "neoliberal" very rich, which indeed also is their very own group (for both are multi-millionaires, and indeed both got to be multi-millionaires by massive frauds enabled by massive deregulations and an utterly corrupt American system of "justice").

The last quotation is "
about the destruction of civil, basic civil liberties" by means of the NAFTA and the TTP/TTIP:
HEDGES: And when you talk about destruction of the constitution, you're talking about the destruction of civil, basic civil liberties, right. And that these were taken away through emergency measures, is that correct, in Mexico?
LUNA: It's from [inaud.] the NAFTA treaty, everything has been increasing all the time. And with the new trade that--.
LUNA: We're afraid that actually, we are actually losing our national--.
HEDGES: Sovereignty, sovereignty.

This is also my best guess about the future of Europe, which is presently governed mostly by unelected neo-fascists of the Bill Clinton type (their propaganda is one thing; their legal practices are the opposite thing).

It may take another twenty years until Europe is where Mexico is now, but with the leaders we have in Europe, and with the people we have, whose enormous intelligence, knowledge and lack of prejudices and wishful thinking gave them all the powers they desired, this seems to be the probable European future - unless we do get a major crisis that will destroy the powers of most of the very rich.

4. The American Fascist

The fourth item is by Robert Reich on his site:

This starts as follows:

I’ve been reluctant to use the  “f” word to describe Donald Trump because it’s especially harsh, and it’s too often used carelessly.

But Trump has finally reached a point where parallels between his presidential campaign and the fascists of the first half of the 20th century – lurid figures such as Benito Mussolini, Joseph Stalin, Adolf Hitler, Oswald Mosley, and Francisco Franco – are too evident to overlook.

It’s not just that Trump recently quoted Mussolini (he now calls that tweet inadvertent) or that he’s begun inviting followers at his rallies to raise their right hands in a manner chillingly similar to the Nazi “Heil” solute (he dismisses such comparison as “ridiculous.”)

The parallels go deeper.

I say - though basically I agree, indeed also with putting Joseph Stalin in the class of 20th Century fascists (and no: the Soviet Union never was socialistic in any plausible sense, except perhaps a fascistic sense: in fact it was a form of state capitalism that was run by a very small set of very powerful families, the Nomenklatura [3]).

Then again, I have one small piece of criticism: I think it is more correct to call Trump a neo-fascist, in part because he does bring some new things, such as (1) his being a billionaire (he says, and he certainly is very rich); (2) his not relying on a military force and military postures and uniforms; and (3) his posing as a "neoliberal": a part of his riches are derived from the freedoms the very rich were given by Bill Clinton. (See the previous item.)

Also, another reason this seems neo-fascism rather than fascism is that (4) while fascism [1] involves a merger of government and the very rich (which has been mostly effected in the USA, already under Reagan and Clinton, and was furthered by Bush Jr and Obama), neo-fascism involves the subjection of the government, the law, the parliament and all inhabitants of any nation to the multi-national corporations that run the interests of the very rich.

This is done by the TTP, the TTIP, the TiSA and the CETA, all of which insist on
the introduction of a special kind of "courts" (run by the lawyers of the multi-
national corporations, open only to the multi-national corporations - and this is the whole reason for these "trade pacts": getting supra-national "courts" only dedicated to the profits of the very rich) where each and any decision taken by parliaments, governments and judiciares of any nation can be accused of lowering the expected profits of the multinational corporations and, if the lawyers of the multi-national corporations, which also function as judges in these "courts", agree that the profits are lower than projected, then the nations' inhabitants are convicted to having to pay hundreds of millions or several billions from their tax money to repay the multi-national corporations.

This will rapidly undo all the legal advantages Europe has over Mexico, for these all give rights to ordinary people, and all these rights hurt the profits that the very rich expect (which must be at least as much as those gained in Mexico).

I am a cynic? See the previous item: My cynicism is as nothing compared to the greedy cynicism of the very rich and their lawyers.

Here is why Robert Reich takes Trump as a fascist:

Trump’s incendiary verbal attacks on Mexican immigrants and Muslims – even his reluctance to distance himself from David Duke and the Ku Klux Klan – follow the older fascist script.  

That older generation of fascists didn’t bother with policy prescriptions or logical argument, either. They presented themselves as strongmen whose personal power would remedy all ills.

They created around themselves cults of personality in which they took on the trappings of strength, confidence, and invulnerability – all of which served as substitutes for rational argument or thought.  

Trump’s entire campaign similarly revolves around his assumed strength and confidence.
This is true, although my preference for "neo-fascist" rather than "fascist" remains the case: I named at least four differences.

Here are further reasons:

There are further parallels. Fascists glorified national power and greatness, fanning xenophobia and war. Trump’s entire foreign policy consists of asserting American power against other nations. Mexico “will” finance a wall. China “will” stop manipulating its currency.  

In pursuit of their nationalistic aims, the fascists disregarded international law. Trump is the same. He recently proposed using torture against terrorists, and punishing their families, both in clear violation of international law. 

Finally, the fascists created their mass followings directly, without political parties or other intermediaries standing between them and their legions of supporters.
The last point doesn't seem to be quite correct to me: Hitler and Mussolini and also Stalin headed political parties, and indeed the first two also won democratic elections (and so did Stalin, but these elections were not democratic).

Reich's article - which I like and which also is brave - ends as follows:
Viewing Donald Trump in light of the fascists of the first half of the twentieth century – who used economic stresses to scapegoat others, created cults of personality, intimidated opponents, incited violence, glorified their nations and disregarded international law, and connected directly with the masses – helps explain what Trump is doing and how he is succeeding.

It also suggests why Donald Trump presents such a profound danger to the future of America and the world. 

I agree that the 20th Century fascists are a strong parallel to Trump's political antics, but again I say - and I know about fascism - he is a neo-fascist rather than a fascist, and is so because he (and others) added four new things:

(1) his being a billionaire;
(2) his not relying on a military force and military postures and uniforms;
(3) his posing as a "neoliberal" who is for "freedom" (for the very rich), and

(4) neo-fascism involves the subjection of the government, the law, the parliaments and all inhabitants of any nation to the multi-national corporations that run the interests of the very rich.

But this is a good and recommended article.

5. Sanders Claims 'Game-Changing' Win as Revolution Revs Engine in Michigan

The fifth and last item today is b
y Jon Queally on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:

A potentially 'huuuuge' victory.

Though expectations were met as Hillary Clinton claimed a win by large margin in the Mississippi primary, the big story of Tuesday's two Democratic primaries is that Bernie Sanders has achieved an "upset of almost unheard of proportions" by claiming victory in the bellwether state of Michigan.

I say - and in spite of his getting very much less attention in the main media than Trump, and also a lot less attention than Hillary Clinton.

Here is Sanders email about winning in Michigan:

In a campaign email shortly after, Sanders declared the victory in Michigan as significant:

The results are in and we were just declared the winner in a very important state for our campaign: Michigan. That’s a major, game-changing victory for our campaign.

The corporate media counted us out. The pollsters said we were way behind. The Clinton super PACs spent millions against us across the country. We were hit with a dishonest attack in the debate. But we won, again… and if we continue to stand together, we can win this nomination.

I agree, also if this means destroying the Democratic party machine, like the Republican party machine is being destroyed by Donald Trump. (One reason why
the Democratic party machine may need destroying is all the superdelegates they nominate - completely apart from any elections - in order to get their desired candidate to win, indeed extremely undemocratically. Then again, for now this is only an if and when.)

Finally, here is Nina Turner, who is a Democrat who is supporting Sanders, and who explains the reasons why people turn to Sanders:
"The more that people see he has been consistent—that he doesn't change his message based on polling, that he doesn't change his message depending on what audience he's talking to—he has been a champion of the everyday people and it is starting to resonate."

Precisely - and Bernie Sanders has been consistent since 1970, also (or before) and he doesn't get money from the very rich or from superpacs.

[1] I am sorry, but I have explained now quite a few times what I understand by "fascism"; why that is a reasonable definition; and also that I know a lot about fascism because my grandfather was murdered for resisting the Nazis and my father spent more than 3 years and 9 months in German concentration camps for resisting the Nazis, and I also read a lot about politics and the social sciences.

You may disagree (you always may), but that is what I think, and it seems to me clear enough for any intelligent person to grasp.

As to "neo-fascism": I will explain my reasons but do so in fact in the next section.

[2] This is related to my Dutch experiences (where we have the somewhat fascistic Wilders, who is very popular): The Nazis demanded that a pure Aryan had four non-Jewish grandparents; many of Wilders' supporters speak as if they consider purely Dutch only those with four non-Muslim grandparents with real Dutch family names; and I extended this to the USA, feeling pretty certain most of this applies to - at least - the Tea Party. (But it is a parenthetical remark, and I know family names are a bit different in the U.S.A.)

[3] In fact, there is a very interesting book written by a former member of that ruling class: "Nomenklatura - Die herrschende Klasse der Sowjetunion", by Michael S. Voslensky (<- Wikipedia). In fact, this was published in 1980, and I know it only in German, but it is a very clear exposition of how the Soviet Union really worked, by somebody who was part of the Nomenklatura.

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