Jun 2, 2016

Crisis: FBI & State Terrorism, Trump, Sanders, Brand Name Trump
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The FBI Wants to Exempt Massive Biometric Database
     From the Privacy Act

2. Trump: A Fool and a Fraud
3. Bernie Sanders Fights On: The Rolling Stone Interview

This is a Nederlog of Thursday, June 2, 2016.

This is a crisis log. There are 4 items with 4 dotted links: item 1 is about the FBI's desire to become the most powerful state terrorists there have ever been; item 2 is about Trump (but while I agree with the title, I agree less with the contents); item 3 is about a fairly decent and rather long interview with Bernie Sanders on The Rolling Stone; and item 4 is about Ralph Nader's Brand Name for Trump: CHEATING DONALD, as compared with my idem: LUNATIC TRUMP.

1. The FBI Wants to Exempt Massive Biometric Database From the Privacy Act

The first item is by Ava Kofman on The Intercept:

This starts as follows:

A broad coalition of 45 signatories, including civil liberties, racial justice, human rights, and privacy organizations, published a letter Tuesday strongly condemning a proposal by the FBI to exempt its massive biometric database from certain provisions of the Privacy Act. Known as the Next Generation Identification system, or NGI, the FBI database houses the world’s largest collection of fingerprints, DNA profiles, palm prints, face images, and other biometric identifiers. The letter, signed by groups such as La Raza, Color of Change, Amnesty International, National LGBTQ Task Force, as well as the companies Uber and Lyft, criticized the agency’s May 5 proposal on the grounds that the “system uses some of the most advanced surveillance technologies known to humankind, including facial recognition, iris scans, and fingerprint recognition.”

Specifically, the FBI’s proposal would exempt the database from the provisions in the Privacy Act that require federal agencies to share with individuals the information they collect about them and that give people the legal right to determine the accuracy and fairness of how their personal information is collected and used. The exemption could render millions of records unavailable to subjects. As of December 2015, the NGI system contained 70,783,318 criminal records and 38,514,954 civil records.

As it happens, I can document that at least since 2005 (<- this is the evidence, in Dutch) I have not believed that the FBI, the NSA (the existence of which I did not know in 2005), and other govermental dataminers (of which there are very many) were assembling data to find out about terrorism.

Terrorism always was the pretext to get everything on anyone, and the reason the secret services want everything on anyone is that this gives them more power than anybody ever had.

This article is yet another argument that shows this:

The FBI wants to know everything about anyone, and also wants to prevent that anyone can find out what the FBI knows about them, also if all the data the FBI gathered about one don't have anything to do with any crime or any terrorism.

Here is some more that explains the above quoted second paragraph (boldings added by me):

As the coalition notes with alarm, the database stores millions of unique identifiers for U.S. citizens who have not been convicted of a crime alongside those who have. Fingerprints taken for an employer’s background checks, for instance, can be stored and searched in the NGI’s system along with those taken for criminal investigations.

AND the FBI wants to deny you all rights to know that the FBI has your fingerprints (etc. etc. etc.).

Here is the final bit I'll quote:

Several civil liberties advocates, all of which signed the letter, told The Intercept that allowing the FBI to evaluate privacy at its “sole discretion,” as the notice suggests, shields the NGI database from oversight, accountability, and transparency. Jeramie Scott, a national security attorney who helped litigate the Electronic Privacy Information Center’s lawsuit against the FBI for documents pertaining to its NGI system in 2013, said the exemption “makes it harder for people to understand what the FBI is using this data for, to access this data to make sure its correct, and to have some type of civil remedy if, because of the FBI’s NGI database, they are somehow harmed by the FBI’s use of that data.”

Yes, precisely. And this is a recommended article.

2. Trump: A Fool and a Fraud

The second item is b
y Eugene Robinson on Truthdig:
This got selected on the title, but while I like the title, the article simply is mistaken. I will show this by selecting two bits from it. The first is this:
As Trump showed the world, it is relatively easy to run for president if you are willing to say or do anything to get attention and you believe in nothing except your own self-inflated myth. His reality-television-style campaign overwhelmed a badly fractured Republican Party. But the act is getting harder to pull off because now his words, often chosen for their shock value, have real consequences.
No: Trump did not "show[..] the world" that "it is relatively easy to run for president if you are willing to say or do anything to get attention and you believe in nothing except your own self-inflated myth".

What he showed is that it is relatively easy to run for president in the USA if you are very rich (or so Trump says), and if you totally disregard truth and moral decency, and if the main media do not attack you for your lies, your falsehoods, your offenses, your discriminations and your obvious racism.

It is the main media that made Trump great by not questioning his obvious lies and falsehoods. Trump would have been long out of the presidential race if the
main media had seriously questioned and attacked his very many lies, falsehoods, etc. They did not, in part because not doing so made them a lot of money.

Here is the second bit:

Trump apparently believes that he can defeat his likely opponent, Hillary Clinton, by winning the votes of some disaffected Democrats who support Bernie Sanders. Yet while Trump has called climate change a “hoax” somehow perpetrated by the dastardly Chinese, Sanders calls it “the single greatest threat facing our planet” and proposes urgent and sweeping action to limit atmospheric and oceanic warming. Clinton basically agrees with Sanders, as evidenced by her unfortunately phrased promise to “put a lot of coal companies and coal miners out of business.”

Hm. I don't think "Clinton basically agrees with Sanders" about climate change. I agree she - like all sane persons - agrees there is climate change, but that seems to be "the basic agreement" between Sanders and Clinton: Apart from that, her program is quite different, while it is also difficult (if you know anything about the Clintons) to believe much she is saying before she is elected.

Then again, I agree with Robinson that Trump is both a fool and a fraud. And there is more on the brand name that is appropriate for a product like Trump in section 4.

3. Bernie Sanders Fights On: The Rolling Stone Interview

The third
item is by Tim Dickinson on The Rolling Stone:

This has a subtitle:

A defiant candidate on what he's trying to achieve

That is indeed what the interview is about, which I thought fairly decent, and that also is too long to decently excerpt. I pick some bits for comments. The first is this:

To a certain degree ... So what is the common denominator among those voters?
Here's what the common denominator is: To the media's great shock and to the pundits' great shock, there are millions of Americans who are very, very angry. And they're angry because they're working longer hours for lower wages. They're angry because they're working two and three jobs. They're worried about the future of their children – getting decent jobs and getting homes. And then they look at the leadership of the Democratic Party and the leadership of the Republican Party and they don't see people addressing – or even paying attention to – their needs. And Trump comes along and starts to blame Mexicans or Muslims or women for the problems facing society. The people are seeing that someone at least is speaking to their anger. And that's unfortunate. That's a very ugly approach. But that's why he's succeeding.

We are also addressing the anger of the American people. [But] in a constructive way. And that is to say: We've got to bring people together. Do the exact opposite of Trump, who is trying to divide us up. To look at the real causes for why the middle class is declining, and develop public policy that
I agree with Sanders that many Americans are angry (and anxious, and very poor) and that this, together with the fact that the leaders of both big parties are not "addressing – or even paying attention to – their needs", is a good part of the reason many Americans like Trump.

Then again, another part of the reason many Americans like Trump is that he is crude, mean, a racist, and a misogynist, while many Americans also do not
have adequate ideas about their own country or its politics.

These reasons also hold, although I agree that Sanders probably acts wisely in not paying much attention to the (very disappointing) degrees of intelligence and information in American voters.

Next, there is this exchange on Sanders role in the Democratic Party and on the political revolution his presidential candidacy created:

Is this fight to persuade superdelegates to back you over Clinton a test of your philosophy of a political revolution? You've got a friendly opposition that you've got to convince to do something. And it's arguably in their electoral self-interest...
No. It's an inside-the-Democratic Party strategic effort, just trying to get the delegates we need. It's not the political revolution. The political revolution is waking up millions of people to stand up and fight for their own rights. The political revolution is to bring out 1.2 million people at rallies throughout this country. The political revolution is to bring in more individual campaign contributions at this point in a campaign than any candidate in American history, averaging $27 apiece. A political revolution is in every single primary or caucus we win an overwhelming majority of voters 45 years of age or younger. I wish we were doing better among seniors.
I agree with Sanders: He did achieve something quite big in motivating the large enthusiasm for him, especially given the fact that his candidacy and his person have been mostly discriminated by the main media.

Whether that will bring about "a political revolution"
remains to be seen, for this depends on his becoming president or, failing that, in succeeding in creating a strong (really [1]) leftish political movement.

Here is Sanders on the New Deal he presents, and on his plans if he does not become president:

Everything that I campaign on – they're not fringe ideas. They're not radical ideas. They're ideas that the American people support. What we've got to do now is close the gap that currently exists between the American people over here [gestures to one side of the table], who have needs and goals and desires, and a Congress [gestures to other side], which in almost every instance is ignoring what the American people want.

Now, is it easy to do? No. How do you do it? It's a good question. And the truth is, right now I'm a bit busy running for president to have figured that out, other than to tell you that it requires a mass-based political effort bringing millions of people together to stand up and fight back.
Sanders is right that the ideas he puts to the American voters are neither radical nor revolutionary. If he were a European, I'd say he is a decent somewhat leftish social democrat, which in Europe tend to be large parties
that often govern (often in coalitions with other parties, as in Germany) and
that have ideas and ideals that are not radical nor revolutionary.

And he is also right in opposing the American people and the Congress (that is liked by either 6 or 8% - forgot which), and in declining to answer what he will do if he doesn't win the presidency: That indeed is not very relevant now.

Here is the last bit I'll quote:
Do you have any closing thoughts?
Yeah. And that is the American people are prepared to support real change. The difficulty that we have is not just the objective crises that we face – the disappearing middle class, income and wealth inequality, crumbling infrastructure, lack of universal health care and paid family and medical leave – the whole list of those things. That's not the major problem. The major problem is that we have an establishment that works 24 hours a day, seven days a week, led by a corporate media, which tries to condition the American people not to believe that we can accomplish those goals – or to even consider that those goals can be part of what American society is about.
Quite so! The main problem I see in America is that the main media have betrayed the people by betraying their roles as investigators of the truth.

The main media - which are what vast majority sees or reads - stopped investigating the truth in the early 2000s, and replaced this by uncritically
following and repeating the propaganda of the government and of polticians

It is also especially this radical change in the main media that undermines democracy, for a real democracy is only possible if the main media critically investigate the claims of the government and of politicians, and honestly report the results of their investigations.

There is a lot more in the interview, which is recommended.


The fourth
item is by Ralph Nader on his site:

This starts as follows:

Donald Trump brags about “branding” his political opponents. He repeatedly has called Marco Rubio “Little Marco,” Ted Cruz “Lyin’ Ted,” and Hillary Clinton, “Crooked Hillary.” Repetition makes these epithets stick – a lesson Trump has drawn from the advertising world and his own fragile ego.

Astonishingly, his opponents have not successfully branded him – choosing instead to first ignore and then argue with Trump, who is a  chronic overtalker, shouter and prevaricator. The mass media, delighted with its ratings, has until recently rarely chosen to challenge his false assertions, preferring instead to let him perpetuate his mendacities.

Yes, indeed - and as I pointed out in the previous item, the mass media have systematically betrayed the people's interests and the possibilities for maintaining a real democracy, for real democracy depends on a widespread knowledge of the real facts, and these are not delivered any more by the main media.

I also agree with Nader that Trump must have a "fragile ego" and that he is "a chronic overtalker, shouter and prevaricator".

Ralph Nader concludes this:

Based on these and other solid published sources, the new moniker or nickname for Trump should be “CHEATING DONALD.”

I respectfully disagree: Cheaters, while dishonest, are sane. Trump, while dishonest, is also not sane, and that is the big problem: He doesn't believe in truth or in facts; he says whatever comes up in his mind, which must be so because (he thinks) He Is The Greatest, and that is that. And the main media don't contradict him, because they make a lot of money that way, and money comes for them before responsibility and honesty.

And while I am a psychologist, many others - including quite a few Republicans - seem to see it in similar terms: You just cannot deliver the keys to the American atomic arsenal to a man who is as wacky, as strange, as temperamental, as dishonest, as unpredictable and as narcissistic as he is.

For this reason, my own preferred brand name for the product Trump is: "THE LUNATIC TRUMP", for that points out what I think he is, why I think he is very
dangerous, and why he must be stopped.

It are not the interminable amounts of utter trash, nonsense, falsehoods and bullshit that Trump produces (there are quite a few more politicians who do so): it is that he is fundamentally irresponsible, unpredictable, and dangerous.

Then again, Nader does have reasons for his favored qualification:

Cheating Donald rings true with many bells. He has cheated on his workers, including undocumented laborers. Through his numerous tactical company bankruptcies, he has cheated on his creditors and employees who were thrown out of their jobs. Fortune Magazine’s 1999 list of the 496 most admired companies ranked his casino company at the bottom – worst or almost worst in management, use of assets, employee talent, long-term investment value and social reasonability. And that was before Cheating Donald’s company later went bankrupt.

He cheated on consumers – most recently the students at Trump “University” that New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman called an “illegal educational institution.”

He has cheated on taxpayers – using political influence to get tax abatements for his properties, while admittedly paying little or no taxes on his tax returns he refuses to disclose.
I agree with all of that. Here is the final bit on Nader's branding:

Finally, he has cheated the Truth, producing a veritable Trump Tower of false statements, twisting facts into webs of deception while vaingloriously shouting  to rallies that “we’re going to  win, win, win, win, win, win, win until you get sick of us winning” (without ever once answering the question of “how”).

Since announcing his bid for the presidency in June 2015, Trump’s campaign trail has been strewn with illusory promises, and a staggering number of self-glorifications suggesting deep personal instabilities. These childish displays of hubris confirm day after day it is all about him and not the American people. Not exactly presidential timber.

Yes, but this again (it seems to me, at least) supports my branding more than Nader's branding:

Somebody with 75% of his checked statements turning out to be false, not merely disbelieves in truth [2] and in facts, but this suggests, also joined with the "staggering number of self-glorifications suggesting deep personal instabilities", that he is not merely not "exactly presidential timber", but that he is too much of an irresponsible, temperamental lunatic to be the most powerful man on earth.

And indeed Nader concludes as follows - while I would say "the Lunatic Trump" better supports the rest of Nader's (true!) statements than "Cheating Donald":

For Cheating Donald is not only uncontrollable for the political establishment, he also lacks control over himself and is routinely driven to disparagingly brand anyone who takes him to task. He has demonstrated time and again that he lacks the self-control to negotiate the “great deals” that have become the hallmark of his campaign’s message. Cheating Donald is the latest manifestation of what could happen to this country when commercialized elections separate from the discipline of a democratic society. This is turning our land into a plutocratic-oligarchic domain, where the Rich rule the Many by entrenching the corporate state so dreaded by our founding fathers.

For he does "lacks control over himself" and he "has demonstrated time and again that he lacks the self-control" to be president of the USA. I have seen 11 American presidents in my life, but I have never seen a presidential candidate
with such problems of self-control, temperament, facts, and honesty as Trump.


[1] I think the qualification "really" before "leftish" is quite necessary, because "the left" has changed a lot since the 1970ies, and basically for two reasons, one philosophical, and one political.

The philosophical reason is that "the left" adopted (for a large part) postmodern ideas that denied there is any real truth and denied there is any real foundation for morality. I (who am a philosopher, with a lot of relevant knowledge) always opposed postmodernism, but many nominal "leftists" did not, and thereby also gave up the truth-based non-relativistic teachings of the more traditional left.

The political reason is that some rather important nominally "leftist" politicians, notably Bill Clinton, Tony Blair and Wim Kok in the nineties simply gave up socialism, trade unions, and much that was classically left, and replaced this by their own brand of neoliberalism, that only shared some of the propaganda and terminology with the old left, but otherwise was  quite neoconservative. I again opposed all of this.

The reasons for my oppositions to much of "the new left" (the "Third Way") is that I very well know what the old left was like, because both of my parents were - sincere and intelligent - revolutionary communists for 45 years. I did not, from age 20 onwards, agree with their Marxism, but I did agree and indeed do agree with their leftism.

Finally, it also seems to me that real leftists are anti-postmodernists, pro science, and pro truth, while false leftists are postmodernists, anti (real) science, and generally limit their fake "leftishness" to politically correct speechifying, while supporting "
Third Way" bullshit.

These distinctions are quite important. And also see the next note.

[2] Incidentally but quite relevantly:

At least 90% of both staff and students of the University of Amsterdam between 1977 and 1995 disbelieved in truth (they believed: "everybody knows there is no truth") and disbelieved in science (nearly all students believed: "everybody knows science is a capitalist illusion").

In the end, the main reason for this - gross anti-university bullshit - was that the Dutch students effectively were given the Dutch universities in 1971, by an act of parliament, which gave the students the full control over the universities, that from 1971 till 1995 were directed by parliaments that were
elected yearly on the principle of 1 man (professor, lecturer, secretary, student, toilet cleaner) = 1 vote.

This set-up gave total control to the students, for these were always in the vast majority. And from 1971 till 1995 most students were either very leftish (often communists, especially from 1977-1983) or very postmodern (from 1984 onwards). It stopped in 1995 by another act of the national parliament, that took all powers away from the students (and gave them to bureaucrats).

This also explains why over 90% of "the scientific staff" pretended for nearly 25 years to be "much interested in the genius of Marx", because they liked their very well-paying and well-pensioned bureaucratic jobs very much more than
science or truth. And indeed they nearly all retained their bureaucratic jobs. (For "scientists" in Holland then were all state bureau- crats, with - excellent - state pensions, and stable and guaranteed jobs regardless of competence, for 40 years or so, provided they didn't quarrel.)

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