April 1, 2016

Crisis: Elections, Trump, Stingrays, Republicans, Corporate Debt, Trump's Failure
Sections                                                                     crisis index

Bernie Sanders Flipping Presidential Script, Turning
     Democratic Race Into Epic Contest

2. Donald Trump Is Dangerous to Women
Court Explains Why Cops Cannot Use Cell Phones 'As
     Real-Time Tracking Devices'

4. Bernie Sanders Has an Interesting Theory About Why
     the Republican Party Exists

5. Corporate Debt Defaults Explode To Catastrophic Levels
     Not Seen Since The Last Financial Crisis

6. All the numbers spell disaster for Trump


This is a Nederlog of Friday, April 1, 2016.

This is a crisis blog. There are 6 items with 7 dotted links: Item 1 is about what seems to me "the average position" (at present) about who is going to be the next American president; item 2 is about an article by Kali Holloway, who is angry with Trump (with reason); item 3 is about a fine recent court decision: Stingraying people should be forbidden; item 4 is about a stupid article by Tim Murphy, who apparently has no head for logic; item 5 is about the chances that there will soon be a crisis like 2009's or bigger; and item 6 is about two articles that both insist that it is very unlikely that Trump will win the presidential elections (and I conclude they are probably correct - if there is not another major attack before the presidential elections).

Also, I uploaded the latest version of the
crisis index (this is the 1169-th article about the crisis that I wrote since September 1, 2008). And I may write about various definitions of fascism in the weekend, although I do not know that yet.

1. Bernie Sanders Flipping Presidential Script, Turning Democratic Race Into Epic Contest

The first item is by Eugene Robinson on Truthdig:
This starts as follows:
If not for a certain Manhattan billionaire, Bernie Sanders’ surprising strength and Hillary Clinton’s relative weakness would be the big political story of the year.

Democrats are fortunate that bloody insurrection is roiling the Republican Party. Clinton—the likely Democratic nominee—will almost surely face either Donald Trump, who is toxic to most of the electorate, or an alternative chosen at the GOP convention and seen by Trumpistas as a usurper.

Clinton would be favored to beat either Trump or his closest challenger, Ted Cruz, whose ultraconservative views would be expected to repel independent voters. But Democrats should be thankful that John Kasich, who could have broad appeal, is almost surely too moderate to win the nomination of a Republican Party dragged to the far-right fringe by its angry base.

Given the circumstances, Democrats are allowing themselves to dream of a historic sweep in which they retake the Senate and even threaten the GOP’s huge majority in the House.
Most of this is mere guessing, as I grant is indicated by the various "would be"s. There are also several things I disagree with, but - I would guess, as anyone writing now must do about most things relating to electing the next American president - I take it this is more or less the average American point of view.

That average point of view can be summarized as: Clinton will be the Democrat's presidential candidate; Trump the Republican one; Clinton will beat Trump (easily); and the Democrats will take the Senate and possibly the House as well.

I say. I don't know whether this is true, and neither does Eugene Robinson, but I grant the picture he drew is probabilistically plausible (aka: "more probable than not").

As to the Democratic contest between Sanders and Clinton, there is this:

By any objective measure, Clinton is far ahead. She has won in 18 states, compared to Sanders’ 14. More people have voted for her than for any other candidate, including Trump—far more than have voted for Sanders, since most of her victories have been in primaries while most of his have come in caucuses. More important, she has such a big lead in convention delegates that it is mathematically improbable, though not yet impossible, for Sanders to catch her.
As before, I think this is a somewhat colored presentation, but it is on the probable side.

Finally, I selected this:

But look at the bigger picture: It’s April and Clinton has not managed to put away a 74-year-old avowed socialist who wasn’t even a Democrat until he began his campaign. Why is that not worrisome?

Clinton’s disapproval rating is consistently higher than her approval—an average of 55 percent to 40 percent, according to Huffpost Pollster. (This would be seen as a crisis if Trump’s disapproval were not even higher.) Substantial numbers of voters say they do not trust her.

In isolation, let’s face it, she looks beatable in the fall. Fortunately for her, the Republican Party doesn’t look capable of beating anybody. But I wouldn’t want to bet everything on GOP dysfunction.

Again, I take it this is the average point of view. It is again a bit plausible, but the quoted piece really forgets that a win of the Republican Party in November is quite possible if it can be somehow arranged that there is a big attack of Isis on the USA a month or so before the elections.

Anyway - this article probably gave the average point of view. I don't quite agree with it but it is here because it seems to give the average point of view,
and indeed it has probability on its side.

2. Donald Trump Is Dangerous to Women

The second item is
by Kali Halloway on AlterNet:

This starts as follows, and is rather different from the previous article, and continues an article on the same topic by the same writer from yesterday:

There is perhaps no one in recent American political history who has outdone expectations as drastically as Donald Trump.

I do not mean this as a compliment. What I mean is that even as we have come to expect Donald Trump to say and be the absolute worst—to burrow beneath what previously seemed to be the garbage-strewn bottom—he continues to unashamedly dive to once unthinkable depths, outdistancing even the scavengers and bottom-feeders who preceded him.

I think Kali Holloway is quite angry. I also think she has the right to be angry, although there are - I am pretty certain - worse people in the USA than Donald Trump. But then these are not billionaires out to grab the position of the most powerful man on earth with bullshit and lies.

Here is some more:

This is a man who has built his political—and if we go back even further, his public—brand on sexualizing, degrading, insulting and vocally and enthusiastically hating women. He makes jokes about newswomen being on their periods, about a fellow candidate’s wife being ugly. He has said countless terrible things about many, many prominent women. And in kind, his supporters dedicate time at rallies to violently shoving teenage girls, to allegedly groping and macing them in the face. Even his campaign manager allegedly physically attacked a reporter for doing her job.

Incidentally, Kali Holloway only mentions women in the above quotation. She has a right to do so, and a right to be angry, and I may point out that there is
a lot more that Trump said that shows he is unfit to be president. [1]

Here is the last bit I will quote from this article:

Donald Trump stopped being funny a long time ago, but the Woman Hater’s Club he’s built will, I’m certain, find all new ways to be horrible. Be outraged, be angry, make fun of Trump’s supporters, but know that won’t stop him. We’re long past that point. Don’t just stand on the sidelines and ridicule him. Trump’s medieval America is too dangerous and backward just to watch happen.

Actually, I am not certain what it is that Kali Holloway recommends others to do (beyond: Stand on the frontlines!). And Donald Trump has restated his position on women and abortion. And - somewhat strictly speaking - "medieval America" was owned by the Indians.

But I think Kali Holloway has the right to be angry with Donald Trump, and indeed Trump is unfit to be president. And there is more on Trump's chances to win the presidency in item 6.

3. Court Explains Why Cops Cannot Use Cell Phones 'As Real-Time Tracking Devices'

The third item is b
y Nadia Prupis on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows - and is good news:

The Maryland Special Court of Appeals, the state's second-highest court, on Wednesday issued a landmark opinion explaining an earlier ruling that police must obtain search warrants before using the controversial cell phone surveillance devices known as Stingrays.

"This is the first appellate opinion in the country to fully address the question of whether police must disclose their intent to use a cell site simulator to a judge and obtain a probable cause warrant," Nathan Freed Wessler, a staff attorney with the ACLU's Project on Speech, Privacy, and Technology, told The Intercept.

Wednesday's opinion explains in detail why the court upheld a lower court ruling earlier this month, which rebuked the Baltimore Police Department for secretly using a cell site simulator to track down a murder suspect. Officers obtained a pen register, which required a lower standard of probable cause to collect phone data than a warrant, then deployed an advanced version of the Stingray known as a "Hailstorm," without informing the judge.

Last April, a Baltimore detective also revealed that the police department used the device more than 4,300 times
since 2007.

Incidentally, this means that the Baltimore police used "the device" about every day, on average, since 2007.

Here is the position of the appellate court:

"We conclude that people have a reasonable expectation that their cell phones will not be used as real-time tracking devices by law enforcement, and—recognizing that the Fourth Amendment protects people and not simply areas—that people have an objectively reasonable expectation and privacy in real-time cell phone location information," the panel wrote on Wednesday.

Quite so! And I really like the explicit appeal to the Fourth Amendment. Also, there is this:

In its opinion, the court rejected the state's argument that anyone turning on a cell phone was "voluntarily" sharing their location with law enforcement.

Of course! No one is "voluntarily" sharing where they are with "law enforcement" - and to say they do is using the word "voluntarily" as if it
means "involuntarily", for until a brief while ago none of these spyings
were admitted (while they happened almost every day), and no one who is spied upon knows he is spied upon or knows who are the spies or knows
what the spies are out to get.

Anyway... some courts are good, is the brief moral I draw.

4. Bernie Sanders Has an Interesting Theory About Why the Republican Party Exists

The fourth item i
s by Tim Murphy on Mother Jones:

This is a quote from Bernie Sanders, near the beginning of the article:

I think if we had a media in this country that was really prepared to look at what the Republicans actually stood for rather than quoting every absurd remark of Donald Trump, talking about Republican Party, talking about hundreds of billions of dollars in tax breaks for the top two tenths of 1 percent, cuts to Social Security and Medicare, Medicaid, a party which with few exceptions doesn't even acknowledge the reality of climate change, let alone do anything about it, a party which is not prepared to stand with women in the fight for pay equity, a party that is not prepared to do anything about a broken criminal justice system or a corrupt campaign finance system, I think, to be honest with you—and I just don't, you know, say this rhetorically, this is a fringe party. It is a fringe party. Maybe they get 5, 10 percent of the vote.

I think - as a philosopher who spent 50 years reading mathematical logic - that this is a very reasonable quote, for what it says is that if the media in the USA would have done what they are for - finding the relevant facts, and presenting them more or less objectively, that is, with little or no bias - then the Republican Party would be a lot smaller than it is.

But Tim Murphy does not think so, or so it seems. What he says is this:

A corporate media that obsesses over the issues Sanders obsesses over would certainly have some impact on the political landscape. But Sanders' dismissal of the Republican base seems to miss a far more obvious takeaway. People vote for Republicans not because they've been brainwashed, but because they actually like what Republicans like Trump are proposing.

First of all, Sanders does not obsess, although he would be justified if he were, for the dishonesty, partiality, and moral degeneracy of large parts of both the main media and the Republican Party are quite obvious, and were also - in part, of course - listed by Sanders in the quote Murphy provided.

Second, Murphy cannot reason logically (or he does not want to reason - I don't know): Sanders did not dismiss "the Republican base": he explained why they are as large as they are. And he did so by pointing out what very many others have also pointed out: The Republicans lie a whole lot, which is giving false information, and the Republicans do not say a lot of what is relevant for taking rational positions on their policies.

Third, Murphy also does not seem to know what brainwashing is: To lie and to refuse to give lots of data that are relevant to making rational judgements about Republican proposals is brainwashing (there are other kinds of brain- washing, but this is a very normal one, and not only in the USA).

Fourth, whether or not people are brainwashed (and I think many of the "poorly educated" so tenderly loved by Trump are being brainwashed, simply by lying to them, and by not telling them what they should know if they are to judge rationally), Sanders' point was not that Republicans do not like Trump (obviously many do; and obviously - I would say - many are being deceived, and intentionally so) - he explained why there are so many: Because of the lies and ommissions by the Republican Party and in the mainstream media.

Ah well... I think all of the above is obvious, which also means that I will not read Tim Murphy anymore: Either he lies or he is very stupid. (This is the same as with some of the leading journalists of The Guardian, and my judgement is also the same: You are too dishonest or too dumb to read. Bye, bye!)

5. Corporate Debt Defaults Explode To Catastrophic Levels Not Seen Since The Last Financial Crisis

The fifth item is by Michael Snyder on Washington's Blog, and originally on the Economic Collapse Blog:

This starts as follows:

If a new financial crisis had already begun, we would expect to see corporate debt defaults skyrocket, and that is precisely what is happening.  As you will see below, corporate defaults are currently at the highest level that we have seen since 2009.  A wave of bankruptcies is sweeping the energy industry, but it isn’t just the energy industry that is in trouble.  In fact, the average credit rating for U.S. corporations is now lower than it was at any point during the last recession.  This is yet another sign that we are in the early chapters of a major league economic crisis.

I say. Also, I do not know whether these facts imply what they are stated to imply ("we are in the early chapters of a major league economic crisis").

Then again, part of the reason this article is here is that I strongly believe the Western world is in an economic crisis since 2009, and I have so far seen no reason to change that belief. [2]

Here is some more on the supposed new crisis (bolding in the original):

While many were looking forward to the weekend in last week’s holiday-shortened week for some overdue downtime, the CEOs of five, mostly energy, companies had nothing but bad news for their employees and shareholders: they had no choice but to throw in the towel and file for bankruptcy.

And, as Bloomberg reports, with last week’s five defaults, the 2016 to date total is now 31, the highest since 2009 when there were 42 company defaults, according to Standard & Poor’s.
I do not know how important the 31 recent bankruptcies were. But if the numbers are correct, this is a reason to take this serious, for all of 2009
was bad, whereas 2016 is only past for 1/4th.

Here is a summary:

We are in the terminal phase of the greatest debt bubble the world has ever experienced.  For decades, the United States has been running up government debt, corporate debt and consumer debt.  Our trade deficits have been bigger than anything the world has ever seen before, and our massively inflated standard of living was funded by an ever increasing pile of IOUs.
I don't know whether we are "in the terminal phase", but the article is right that there never has been as many and as much debts as there are now.

6. All the numbers spell disaster for Trump

The sixth and last item today consists of two articles, both with the same theme, that is well announced by the title of the first:

This starts as follows, and is here to give some perspective on Trump and his chances to become the next US president:

Donald Trump’s dominance has obscured just how unpopular he is outside of the conservative bubble. Even among Republican voters, if you dig a little deeper, you find that Trump has serious problems. Nate Silver elaborates: “Trump has consistently had the plurality of Republican support in polls, but those same polls suggest that Trump faces unusually high resistance from voters who don’t have him as their first choice…Many of them would be unhappy with a Trump nomination, more than is typical for a polling front-runner.”

In short, Trump is extremely popular with his base, but deeply disliked by everyone else.
That seems reasonable. And here is considerably more:

It’s worse if you extend the analysis to include the broader electorate. As The Washington Post reports, “If Donald Trump secures the Republican presidential nomination, he would start the general election campaign as the least-popular candidate to represent either party in modern times…Three-quarters of women view him unfavorably. So do nearly two-thirds of independents, 80 percent of young adults, 85 percent of Hispanics and nearly half of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents.”

These are daunting numbers. There is no discernible path to the White House for Trump against this kind of resistance. In the 32 years the Washington Post-ABC News survey has been tracking candidates, no major-party nominee has produced unfavorability scores like this.

I tend to agree, except for one possibility, that is not considered in this article: What if there is another 9/11 (or another major attack with quite a few killed) between now and the presidential elections?

And here is the other article I selected, this time by Ariel Edwards-Levy on The Huffington Post:

This starts as follows

Give Donald Trump credit: his candidacy may be unifying the country over dislike for him.

At this point, it might be easier to run down the list of demographic blocs Trump hasn't alienated. He's disliked by Democrats and independents, by young voters, and by minorities, not to mention even the female voters in his own party.

If he wins the GOP nomination, Trump wouldn't be the first nominee to enter a general election with negative ratings. He would, however, be the least popular major party nominee in modern times. The only recent candidate with comparably low ratings is former KKK leader David Duke, who unsuccessfully sought the GOP nomination in 1992.

There is more in the article, but one reason to list the article is the "Editor's note" at the end, which is as follows:

Editor's note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liarrampant xenophoberacist,
misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims -- 1.6 billion members of an entire religion -- from entering the U.S.

I say. Then again, it also is true. And Donald Trump is unfit to be president.

[1] Indeed this - "Donald Trump: Unfit to be president" - may be a line some media might present to the public, and if so, they are correct, at least in this psychologist's opinions: Donald Trump is temperamentally, intellectually and morally not fit to be president of the USA.

Indeed, Bill Maher seems to have arrived at a similar conclusion: If the Republican choice is between Trump and Cruz, he chooses Cruz, whom he has earlier described as "more dangerous than Trump", presumably because Cruz is
less temperamental (I am formulating this carefully) than Trump, and because
Maher thinks absolutely anything may happen with Trump as president.

[2] Also, part of the reason we are now for the eighth successive year in crisis (that is: everybody except the very rich, for the very rich get richer and richer) are (1) the extremely criminal and fraudulent ways in which the banks were bailed out, and (2) the decision to insist on "austerity" instead of investing in the economy.

It is quite possible (but no one will ever know) that the crisis by now would have been safely past if the banks had not been bailed out and there would have been major investments in the economy.

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