The Country Sees 'Fascist Undertones' In Donald
2. The Apple Fight Is About All of Us
3. The Updated Bill of
4. Back to the Future
This is a Nederlog of Sunday, March 20,
crisis blog. It also is the weekend, and I couldn't find more than four
items I wish to review: Item 1
is about a - to me - somewhat surprising outcome of a poll: Half of the
Americans are aware of 'fascist undertones' in Trump's campaign; item 2 is about Apple and the EFF (and is brief); item 3 is about an interesting exercise with the Bill
of Rights; and item 4
is about the rather sad situation of the current USA: it is effectively
fighting many wars for the power, glory and profits of a few, in the
name of propaganda only the stupid or the ignorant believe in.
Half The Country Sees 'Fascist Undertones' In Donald Trump's Campaign
first item is by Ariel Edwards-Levy on the
This starts as
follows (and surprised me):
America believes Donald Trump’s campaign exhibits fascist undertones,
with only 30 percent disagreeing, according to a new HuffPost/YouGov poll. The sentiment isn't
contained to Democrats, who unsurprisingly are willing to agree with a
negative statement about their political rivals. Forty-five percent of
independents also say Trump's campaign has echoes of fascism, as do a
full 28 percent of Republicans.
This surprised me for several reasons:
have not seen the word "fascism" in the American media, with some
exceptions; second, one reason is that it is - among other things - an
emotional and emotionalizing term; and third, while I have seen some
use of the term
in the alternative media (the non-mainstream media, that tend to be
both more colorful and more true), notably
by Robert Reich, who did use the term "fascism" to explain
Donald Trump, again I have not seen many who did so.
to read that "Half of America believes Donald Trump’s
campaign exhibits fascist undertones" is at least a bit surprising.
again, while I found this news interesting and hopeful, it should be
realized also that (i) the term "fascism" has many meanings
(see: March 16, 2016)
and (ii) many may use it as a close equivalent to "I strongly dislike",
without having any more specific meaning of the term
having looked a bit closer at the scores in the link in the quotation -
one should keep in mind that the "Half of America believes" statements
are in fact based on generalizing from 1000 respondents. (But
that is a reasonably sized sample.)
There is also this:
About half the country believes Trump
encourages violence at his campaign events, with just 34 percent saying he doesn't.
The rest aren't sure. Meanwhile, 27 percent of
Republicans say it's acceptable to "rough up" protesters at political
I'd say it is clear Trump encourages
violence through his violent temperament and his partial denials that
he does, and only quite stupid or quite prejudiced people see it
And it is quite disquieting that more than
a quarter of Republicans believe that the law ceases to apply
And there is this:
The data indicates that people generally
consider protesters and the media to be most responsible for the uptick
in violence, even if they also agree that Trump fans the
flames. Fifty-four percent say protesters shoulder "a lot" of the
blame, 41 percent say Trump's supporters do and 47 percent say Trump
percent of Republicans, though, say Trump is largely responsible, with
barely one-quarter believing that he encourages violence.
I more or
less agree with the first quoted paragraph. The second paragraph shows
- in my opinion - strong bias, simply because Trump is the
who praises 'roughing up' protesters, and because this happens at Trump's
article ends as follows:
A lot of
the talk about Trump's post-primary prospects revolves around his
ability to reverse the overwhelmingly negative impression he's so far made on most of the country.
speeches, he has previewed some arguments he would make in the general
election. Many, like focusing on people left behind by the economy, are relatively moderate,
and have the potential to resonate across party lines. Convincing
voters that he has the temperament to take office -- or, at the very
minimum, that he's not a would-be fascist -- may be the tougher sell.
This has -
from my point of view - three positive points:
seems to have made a very negative impression on most voters (and for
what I saw: he is a bully; he doesn't know much; he utters many obvious
lies; and his speeches sound stupid and crude, so this doesn't amaze
me); Trump definitely does not have "the temperament to take
(in fact, I think he is a grandiose narcissist: see March 14, 2016, and that is dangerous
in the most powerful man on earth); and - I think - Trump is a would be
fascist of some kind on several of the more than 20
fascism I briefly considered.
So by and
large this poll seems good to me: More Americans doubt Trump, his
abilities, or his "program" than I thought. (Then again, this is just
one poll, and
the elections are 8 months ahead.)
2. The Apple Fight Is About All of Us
is by Rainy Reitman of the Electronic
This starts as follows:
Dear Friend of Digital Freedom,
President Obama’s advisors may be split
on the encryption issue, but we’re not. We believe all of us are
stronger and safer because end-to-end and full-disk encryption exist.
We want to create a world with more encryption, not less. That’s
exactly why we’re supporting Apple in the battle against the FBI.
The fight is not about just one
iPhone—it implicates the security of all technology users.
If Apple can be compelled to create what
would effectively be a master key to unlock this iPhone, then the
barrier will be substantially lowered for the government to order any
company to turn its products into tools of surveillance—compromising
the safety, privacy, and security of all Americans.
I agree with this, and I review it because
this is by the EFF, who support Apple. So do I, but only
have the far more correct arguments about encryption, and not because I
like Apple, for I don't.
If you want to read more (there isn't much more) click the last dotted
3. The Updated Bill of Rights
The third item today is by Daniel Bruno on Washington's Blog:
This starts as follows:
There is considerably more in the
introduction, that ends with the proposal to quote the first ten
amendments, and to interpret and update them, with the following
Written in 1789, year of the French
Revolution that beheaded the king and queen of France, the American
Bill of Rights was accepted as law of the new land called the United
States on December 15, 1791. Much has happened since then.
Both the Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence were
inspired by Oliver Cromwell’s Glorious Revolution and the Magna Carta.
In 1215, the Magna Carta was issued by King John and established the
precedent that no monarch was above the law. The rule of law has been a
core concept of Anglo-Saxon civilization ever since. Colonists born in
British America felt entitled to the same rights as Englishmen in
The Bill of Rights consists of the first
ten amendments to the constitution. The constitution is like a playbook
or a guide spelling out the rules of engagement that everyone has to
I think that is a good idea, and I mostly
like the interpretations and updates. All ten amendments are quoted and
interpreted and amended, and you can read all by clicking the last
Red is the original text.
Blue is my proposed translation to
I will quote two of them. Here is the first:
shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or
prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of
speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to
assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Translation and update:
United States is founded on the principle of separation between
religion and the state. The United States has no religion nor
does it favor any government, movement or ideology that has a religious
or nationalist identity. Religion is a personal matter and has no
place in American politics and statecraft. All
persons may speak, blog, paint, photograph, video, write or publish as
they please so long as they do not infringe upon the rights of others.
The United States government will not punish journalists and
whistle-blowers, will not mislead people via newspapers, radio,
television, movies, social media, the Internet or any future
people are free to participate in civil disobedience, boycotts,
demonstrations, marches, protests, rallies, recalls, sit-ins and
strikes targeting corporations, politicians and the government
itself. The government will not outsource any activity that
the Bill of Rights prohibits, nor will it establish constitution free
zones at airports, border crossings, ports of entry or border regions.
seems a fair interpretation, and the last statement implies that the
U.S. government is breaking this first amendment in its so-called "free zones at airports"
etc., where it evolves that the police suddenly gets the force to
inspect your laptop, etc. ("because the Constitution does not apply
Incidentally, it might have been added in the interpretation that "freedom of speech"
is neither equivalent with nor does it imply "freedom to support with as
much money as one has the goals that one shares" (which gives
millionaires and billionaires far more powers than they should
have by the totally false
equivocation of "money" and "speech"), but then I agree this is an
utterly nonsensical equivocation, even though it was
supported by a - conservative -
majority of the U.S. Supreme Court.
And next I quote this:
I completely agree with the first two
paragraphs of the "Translation", and indeed that is how I
understood and understand the Fourth Amendment, and as I think it should
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.
government, its agents, contractors, peace officers and military will
not confiscate, copy, disrupt, monitor, record, spy on, surveil,
search, seize, track or video the archives, art, banking records,
books, briefcases, cables, cassettes, cell phones, cell phone towers,
cloud storage, computer drives, credit card receipts, crypto currency
wallets, deliveries, desk tops, diaries, drawings, electric
consumption, employment records, Facebook pages, financial records,
files, folders, hard discs, health records, journals, hand-written
letters, Internet activity, kindles, laptops, library records, license
plates, luggage, magazine subscriptions, medical records, packages,
papers, pockets, political activity, private conversations, purses,
religious texts, social media, spread sheets, tapes, telegrams,
telephone records, television usage, texts, thumb drives, travel
histories, Twitter accounts, wifi, word documents, automobile, home,
office, business, private property, rental space… without just probable
cause that spells out the specific reason and specific person or thing
to be exempted from this rule. The reason must be clearly stated to the
accused and no fishing expeditions are permitted. This rule will apply
equally regardless of race, color, appearance, dress or form of speech.
government will not detain, stop, frisk, interrogate, delay, strip
search, scan, fingerprint, iris scan or palm scan any person without
specific probable cause. Government will not, without probable cause,
impede the movement of people, create black-lists, no-fly lists and
Fourth Amendment prohibits government agents from touching you or
placing you under surveillance or entering your property without
probable cause and even then, only with a court-sanctioned warrant.
Unfortunately, the Fourth Amendment has been all but eviscerated in
recent years by court rulings and government programs that sanction all
manner of intrusions, including giving police carte blanche authority
to break into homes or apartments without a warrant, conduct roadside
strip searches, and generally manhandle any person in manner they see
fit. Moreover, in the so-called name of national security, intelligence
agencies like the National Security Agency now have the ability to
conduct mass unwarranted electronic intrusions into the personal and
private transactions of all Americans, including phone, mail, computer
and medical records.
As to the last paragraph:
I again completely agree that the Fourth Amendment has been "all but eviscerated in
recent years by court rulings and government programs that sanction all
manner of intrusions" but it seems to me both these (often
secret) "court rulings" and "government programs" simply have been illegal,
because they obviously contradict the Fourth Amendment, which is
Constitutional and which cannot be removed (without extensive
changes), and indeed never has been removed.
Again, just the same applies to the NSA: Its " unwarranted electronic intrusions into
the personal and private transactions of all Americans" that are
now going on since 2001, have all been illegal, immoral and indecent
intrusions in the personal freedoms of all Americans, and of everybody
else with a computer or cellphone with an internet connection.
Anyway... the other eight rights of the Bill of Rights are also quoted
and translated, and I liked the interests and the exercise. You can
read all by clicking on the last dotted link, and this is a recommended
4. Back to the Future
The fourth and last item today is by Peter Van Buren
(<- Wikipedia) on TomDispatch:
This starts as follows (after an
introduction by Tom Engelhardt):
The nuances of foreign policy do not
feature heavily in the ongoing presidential campaign. Every candidate
intends to “destroy” the Islamic State; each has concerns about Russian
President Vladimir Putin, North Korea, and China; every one of them
will defend Israel; and no one wants to talk much about anything else
-- except, in the case of the Republicans, who rattle their sabers
In that light, here’s a little trip down
memory lane: in October 2012, I considered five
critical foreign policy questions -- they form the section headings
below -- that were not being discussed by then-candidates Mitt Romney
and Barack Obama. Romney today is a sideshow
act for the current Republican circus, and Obama has started
packing up his tent at the White House and producing his own foreign
And sadly, those five questions of 2012
remain as pertinent and unraised today as they were four years ago.
Unlike then, however, answers may be at hand, and believe me, that's
not good news. Now, let’s consider them four years later, one by
As the Wikipedia lemma on Peter Van Buren
says, he worked for 24 years for the U.S. Department of State and spent
a year in Iraq. Here are his five (or six) questions (quoted without
Is there an endgame for the
global war on terror?
Do today’s foreign policy challenges mean
that it’s time to retire the Constitution?
What do we want from the Middle East?
What is your plan to right-size our
military and what about downsizing the global mission?
Since no one outside our borders buys
American exceptionalism anymore, what’s next? What is America’s point
Here are my answers to these
questions, that originally were posed in 2012:
First question: Obviously there is no endgame,
and there hasn't been one since 2001. In fact, the whole tendency was
the opposite: The USA apparently is busy on a
against terrorism", which it does battle with by its own terrorists,
with drones, for example, and as Peter Van Buren says:
The United States claims the
right to fly into any nation's airspace and kill anyone it wishes. Add
it all together and when it comes to that war on terror across
significant parts of the globe, the once-reluctant
heir to the Bush legacy leaves behind a twenty-first century
mechanism for perpetual war and eternal assassination
missions. And no candidate in either party is willing to even
suggest that such a situation needs to end.
Second question: I have not
seen or heard any
formal demand to retire the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, but I
am quite willing to agree that neither the Constitution nor the Bill of
Rights are followed anymore.
Then again, I don't quite agree with Van Buren"s answer to this
question, that ends thus:
If the question in 2012 was:
“Candidates, have we walked away from the Constitution? If so,
shouldn’t we publish some sort of notice or bulletin?” In 2016, the
answer seems to be: “Yes, we’ve walked away, and accept that or else...
My reply to this is that the 2016 "answer"
is totally anti-Constitutional, quite unreasonable and completely
invalid. So once
again I say that both these answers and the government's and NSA's
treatment of the Constitution are simply illegal.
Incidentally, there is in the text to this question a Snowden-quote
that I like:
it up this way: "You see programs and policies that were publicly
justified on the basis of preventing terrorism -- which we all want --
in fact being used for very different purposes."
Precisely! This is in fact my
basic objection to the tales I was told about "terrorism" in 2005.
(For readers of Dutch, see October 29,
2005: It is good.)
Third question: My answer to the
question what the Americans want from the Middle East is quite simple:
Profits and power.
And it does succeed - in a way, up
point, all apart from legalities, moralities, decencies or
Constitutional duties - quite well, although it should be remarked that
the profits "the Americans" make from the wars they indulge in the last
fifteen years are mostly the profits of the military-industrial
complex (<- Wikipedia): Those industries that, supported by the
taxes paid by most
Americans, change these into profits for war planes, bombs, drones etc.
Fourth question: There simply is no
plan to "right-size our military" and no plan for "downsizing
the global mission". Not in fifteen
years of continuous wars, on which 54% of the American taxes are being
All that the Americans seem to be able to do and see at present (and
the last 15 years!) is to send in more
military folks and more drones, and they do not even speak about costs
Fifth question: I take this as two
questions, and the present one is about American Exceptionalism. Since
I am not an American, I indeed wonder whether American Exceptionalism
was ever believed by many non-Americans since the early 1960ies
there was some force in the notion: See the Marshall Plan).
Apart from that "American Exceptionalism" was a propaganda pretext
for more wars, as far as I can see - and if you believe that Americans
on average are truly exceptional, you must be quite stupid.
Sixth question: As to "America’s point these days": There used to be some point to the USA that was
made outside the USA, and that also had some plausibility in the
The forces of the USA were forces for
democracy, for free elections, and for human rights as stated by the
1948 Declaration on Human Rights.
But it does seem to me that democracy is mostly dead inside the current
USA; free elections are questionable and are anyway manipulated by the
in the current USA; and that the 1948
Declaration on Human Rights seems completely outmoded and is meanwhile
"replaced" by such agreements as the European Convention, that are in
fact totally against the 1948 Declaration.
Then again, I suppose that some Republicans and some Democrats still
believe that the USA has the point it had in the 1950ies, but then I
also believe that they are mostly moved by propaganda, prejudice or
Here is the ending of Peter Van Buren's
article (apart from the last two sentences):
I'd say this may be slightly exaggerated (a
few politicians do say different things, but indeed not many)
and I'd also
say that the current USA may not be so much a "nation
of idiots" as a nation led by militarists,
secret service generals, and propaganda staffs, most or all of whom
are much more propelled by thoughts of glory, power and
profits than by thoughts of democracy, freedom and human rights.
Above all, no politician dares or cares
to tell us anything but what they think we want to hear: America is
exceptional, military power can solve problems, the U.S.
military isn’t big enough, and it is necessary to
give up our freedoms to protect our freedoms. Are we, in the perhaps
slightly exaggerated words of one foreign commentator,
now just a “nation of idiots, incapable of doing anything except
conducting military operations against primitive countries”?
But by and large I agree there is little to be said for the current USA
and its many wars, and not because this could not be done in
principle, but because all principles have been used almost
exclusively to support American glory, power