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Nederlog

Jun 22, 2016

Crisis: "Terrorism", FBI, USA Prison State, Neoliberalism in EU, On Propaganda
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Introduction

1.
Democrats’ War on Due Process and Terrorist
     Fearmongering Long Predate Orlando

2. FBI Wants to Exempt Its Biometric Data From Privacy
     Rules

3. Sotomayor's Blistering SCOTUS Dissent Warns America
     Is Turning Into a Prison State

4. How the European Union Turned Into a Neoliberal
     Nightmare

5. Propaganda & Engineering Consent for Empire with
     Mark Crispin Miller

Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Wednesday, June 22, 2016.

This is a crisis log. There are 5 items with 5 dotted links: Item 1 is about an article by Glenn Greenwald on "potential terrorism" and the Orwellian attitudes of the NSA (and much of the public); item 2 is about the FBI's desire to get all Americans' biometric data made available to them; item 3 is about how the Supreme Court took yet another step to make the U.S. into "a carceral state" much rather than a real democracy (according to a dissenting judge of the Supreme Court (!)); item 4 is about how the European Union in fact is neoliberal, with my addition that "neoliberal" is in fact a propaganda term for neofascism (and I explain myself, briefly); and item 5 is a fine video about propaganda as the engineering of consent: This I recommend everyone to see, because it is good about propaganda (which most people see and read more of than of almost anything else, generally without realizing it).

1
Democrats’ War on Due Process and Terrorist Fearmongering Long Predate Orlando

The first item today is by Glenn Greenwald on The Intercept:

This starts as follows:

Before the bodies were removed from the Pulse nightclub in Orlando last week, Democrats began eagerly exploiting that atrocity to demand a new, secret “terrorist watchlist”: something that was once the domestic centerpiece of the Bush/Cheney war-on-terror mentality. Led by their propaganda outlet, Center for American Progress (CAP), Democrats now want to empower the Justice Department — without any judicial adjudication — to unilaterally bar citizens who have not been charged with (let alone convicted of) any crime from purchasing guns.

Worse than the measure itself is the rancid rhetoric they are using. To justify this new list, Democrats, in unison, are actually arguing that the U.S. government must constrain people whom they are now calling “potential terrorists.” Just spend a moment pondering how creepy and Orwellian that phrase is in the context of government  designations.

I think I should start with a few precisifications:

First, I have been saying since 2005 (or before) that the "war on terrorism" is basically a pretext for getting everything from everyone in some secret database of the NSA and other secret services. In other words, it was propaganda from the very start, with a very different aim than the one publicly declared: Much rather than "protecting everyone", the point was to get everything on anyone anywhere, and all in secret, so that the secret services and/or the police and/or the government were fully informed about everything. I still think that is THE central point of the propaganda "war on terror": People are frightened with terrorism, to make them give up all their privacies, and hand these over to the NSA and other secret services. [1]

Next, in the USA almost everyone is free to buy guns of very many kinds, unlike in Europe, were almost everywhere everyone is forbidden to buy guns
of any kind, except if this is lifted (as may be the case for sporting and hunting). [2]

Third, I think Glenn Greenwald is quite right in insisting that the Democrats are (almost) as bad as the Republicans in assisting (and also in formulating) the propaganda of which the real aim is to get as extensive a secret dossier on absolutely everyone as possible (inside and outside the USA!), and I quite agree with him that this is an Orwellian project with Orwellian methods.

But something depends on the definition of "potential terrorist". Here is the next bit of Glenn Greenwald:

What is a “potential terrorist”? Isn’t everyone that? And who wants the U.S. government empowered to unilaterally restrict what citizens can do based on predictions or guesses about what they might become or do in the future? Does anyone have any doubt that this will fall disproportionately on certain groups and types of people?

My own answer to the question (different from Glenn Greenwald's) is that it is about as ridiculous to say that "everyone is a potential terrorist" as it is to say that "everyone is a potential milionaire": It may happen, but it is quite rare, even though very many more people are trying to become a millionaire than are trying to become a terrorist.

But that indeed is not the answer of the U.S. government. What they mean by "potential" is vague, and what they mean by "terrorist" is possibly even vaguer (and "opponent of the government" seems to come close (!)).

Here is the program as described by Greenwald:

For eight years, this mentality was the driving force behind the worst Bush/Cheney war-on-terror abuses. No matter what the extremist policy was — indefinite detention, warrantless eavesdropping, torture, no-fly lists, Guantánamo, rendition, CIA black sites — Republicans would justify it by saying it was merely being done to “terrorists” and would accuse their due process-advocating critics of wanting to “protect terrorists.” What they actually meant was that all of this was being done to people accused by the U.S. government of involvement in terrorism. But in their mind, “government accusations of terrorism” were synonymous with “proof of guilt.”

That is exactly the warped, Orwellian formulation Democrats embrace: As is extremely obvious, the Democrats’ definition of “terrorist” is “anyone whom the U.S. government suspects of being a terrorist.”
Yes, indeed: At least for the government and those who believe in it (bolding added) "“government accusations of terrorism” were synonymous with “proof of guilt.”"

There is a considerably more in the article, which is recommended, and
ends with the statement that the Fourth Amendment clarified all that is
necessary and justified in a decent democracy. I agree.


2. FBI Wants to Exempt Its Biometric Data From Privacy Rules

The second item is by Thor Benson on Truthdig:

This starts as follows:

The FBI maintains a large database of biometric information called the Next Generation Identification (NGI) system, which includes fingerprints, iris patterns, photos for facial recognition and other data about millions of Americans. The agency recently sought to have this database exempted from rules laid out by the Privacy Act of 1974, rules intended to protect citizens from privacy violations and give them tools for finding out whether their records are included in the NGI system. This exclusionary bid by the intelligence agency has many civil rights groups concerned.
(..)
“The biggest issue here is that the database will contain an enormous amount of biometric data about individuals who are not even suspected of wrongdoing, which will be searched hundreds or thousands of times a day by law enforcement looking for leads,” Gabe Rottman, deputy director of the Freedom, Security and Technology Project at the Center for Democracy and Technology, told Truthdig. “Even a small number of false positives would be an extreme threat to civil liberties.”

I agree, though I do not think this will succeed: See above on terrorism.

The article is recommended.

3. Sotomayor's Blistering SCOTUS Dissent Warns America Is Turning Into a Prison State

The third item is by Travis Getty on AlterNet and originally on Raw Score:

This starts as follows:
Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor strongly disagreed with the majority as she passionately denounced a ruling on unreasonable search and seizures.
A 5-3 majority ruled that prosecutors may present evidence unlawfully collected by police officers to reverse a Utah Supreme Court decision, and Justice Clarence Thomas, who wrote the majority opinion, argued that “the costs of exclusion outweighs its deterrent benefits.”
All decent judges disagreed for a very long time: Evidence that has not been lawfully collected (which is to say that it was illegally collected) may not be used as evidence in a court.

This is no longer true if you are stopped by a policeman in the United States. Here is Sotomayor's reasoning:

“Although many Americans have been stopped for speeding or jaywalking, few may realize how degrading a stop can be when the officer is looking for more,” wrote Sotomayor. “This Court has allowed an officer to stop you for whatever reason he wants—so long as he can point to a pretextual justification after the fact.”

Sotomayor said the court’s ruling had essentially classified all Americans as inmates in the prison-industrial complex.

“By legitimizing the conduct that produces this double consciousness, this case tells everyone, white and black, guilty and innocent, that an officer can verify your legal status at any time,” Sotomayor wrote. “It says that your body is subject to invasion while courts excuse the violation of your rights. It implies that you are not a citizen of a democracy but the subject of a carceral state, just waiting to be cataloged.”

Quite so. This is a recommended article.

4. How the European Union Turned Into a Neoliberal Nightmare

The fourth item is by Enrico Tortolano on AlterNet and originally on Open Democracy:
This starts as follows (and is too long to be reasonably excerpted):
Voting to leave the EU is a no-brainer for the Left. The European Union is remote, racist, imperialist, anti-worker and anti-democratic: It is run by, of, and for the super-rich and their corporations. A future outside austerity and other economic blunders rests on winning the struggle to exit the EU, removing us from its neoliberal politics and institutions. Corporate bureaucrats in Brussels working as agents of the big banks and transnationals’ now exert control over every aspect of our lives. Neoliberal policies and practices dominate the European Commission, European Parliament, European Central Bank, European Court of Justice and a compliant media legitimises the whole conquest. This has left the EU constitution as the only one in the world that enshrines neoliberal economics into its text. Therefore the EU is not—and never can be—either socialist or a democracy.
Yes, but this does need a few precisifications:

First, "the Left" is a very vague term in Europe as well, and most parties that have been traditionally called "leftish" like the "social democrats" were and are strong proponents of the EU (
for example: in Holland, Germany, and  France).

Second, for me these "leftish" indeed are no longer leftists except in name, and by being politically correct, and often for a totalitarian identity politics. Besides, many "social democrats" - Wim Kok, in Holland, for example - were
"Third Way" quasi-socialists with in fact a neoliberal program.


And third, for me the neoliberal policies - which I agree "
dominate the European Commission, European Parliament, European Central Bank, European Court of Justice and a compliant media" - are a kind of neofascism: They are not liberal, they are not free market, they are pro rich, pro austerity for  everyone who is not rich, pro deregulations, pro giving as much freedom to the rich as these want, and most of their published plans are propaganda only, that mostly consists of lies and deceptions. For some more, see below. [3]

Here is some of the propaganda compared with some of the facts:

Against the left’s strategic case for exit is relentless blither and blather from the elitist liberal commentariat: the EU is a social-democratic haven that protects us from the nasty Tories is their litany and verse. This is an absurd fantasy: by design the EU is a corporatist, pro-capitalist establishment. Therefore, it strains credulity that the bulk of the Parliamentary Labour Party and a rump of the trade union movement believe in the myth of Social Europe.
I agree that "by design the EU is a corporatist, pro-capitalist establishment", but I need to do some interpreting:

The "
left’s strategic case for exit" (in Great Britain?) is neither clear about which exit is meant, nor clear about the meaning of "the left", simply because
the largest "leftish" parties these days are the social democrats, and most of these have transformed themselves, already in the 1990ies, into neoliberal anti-socialist Third Way parties, whose only "leftism" were political correctness and a great fondness for totalitarian identity-politics.

Also, what the leading "social democrats" (in fact: neoliberals) meant by their thesis that "
the EU is a social-democratic haven" seems to be specifically that
they, as political leaders "of the left" were quite pleased to meet so many other political
leaders "of the left" who likewise were rightist in their policies but "leftish" in their talks.

Here is a final bit, on neoliberalism and "social democracy" as it is styled now by the
Third Way, that was initiated by Bill Clinton, who managed to do the following during his presidency (quoted from June 20, written by Chris Hedges): Bill Clinton
betrayed working men and women with the North American Free Trade Agreement, destroyed the welfare system, nearly doubled the prison population, slashed social service programs, turned the airwaves over to a handful of corporations by deregulating the Federal Communications Commission, ripped down the firewalls between commercial and investment banks that led to a global financial crash and prolonged recession, and begun a war on our civil liberties that has left us the most monitored, eavesdropped, photographed and profiled population in human history.
That is what the Third Way and neoliberalism meant in practice in the USA, and it is the same with the leading lights of the "social democrats" (between quotes because it is a propaganda lie) in Europe.

Here is Tortolano on what the neoliberal "social democratic haven", that is the EU, brought to its ordinary people:

The major EU policy initiatives such as the Single Market Strategy, European competition policy, Economic and Monetary Integration and the Growth and Stability Pact have put “free” trade and “free” capital mobility, fiscal restraint and business-austerity before the collective interest. In other words the 1% always come before the 99%: the employers always come before the workers. Only in Pinochet’s Chile—where democracy was also absent—have we seen such an embedded programme of neoliberalism. It ruined Chile’s economy too.
Precisely as in the USA. And speaking of neoliberalism and Pinochet's Chile: That was a neofascist state in which real neoliberalism was practised and led by Milton Friedman: it was neofascism, it was terrorism, it was murder, it was degeneracy.

But that is the real face of "neoliberalism" - as can be seen in the present USA and in the present EU. It is true that neither the USA nor the EU have fallen as deep as Pinochet's Chile, but it would be very stupid to insist that it can't happen in either the USA or the EU, for the rich have succeeded in deregulating nearly all laws that protected the 90% from their depradations, cruelty and degeneracies. [4]

5. Propaganda & Engineering Consent for Empire with Mark Crispin Miller

The fifth item is a video by Abby Martin (<- Wikipedia) that is mostly about Edward Bernays (<- Wikipedia), who is the father of the modern system of propaganda and lies that is falsely called "public relations":
This is an interview with Mark Crispin Miller (<-Wikipedia) which is quite good and takes 26 m 24 s. Here is Miller quoted:
I think we live in a moment when propaganda has never been so pervasive, has never been so influential, has never been so dangerous.
And here is Bernays quoted (and the link is to my site, which has "Propaganda" on line, because I think it is quite important) [5]:
We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of.
These men you have never heard of comprise people like Bernays. And here is finally what Bernays set out to do, in his own words:
                  

That is: The secret engineering of the stupid masses with the end of getting their agreement and support, without them knowing they did not find their
ideas and values themselves, but that these were all provided by the secret
engineers of their minds, that almost everyone "never heard of".

This is an important and good video, and is strongly recommended.

---------------------
Notes

[1] I still think so, and with considerably better justification than in 2005: There is the fact that terrorism kills very few; there is the fact that these days all attitudes of ordinary people are dependent on and informed by propaganda; and there is Edward Snowden, who revealed in 2013 how extremely much information is collected in secret by the NSA, the GCHQ and very many other secret services, to be used against persons whenever
any future government (of any political color (!)) thinks this is useful.

[2] It so happens - I have been altogether 7 years been threatened with murder by resp. a completely insane person and two illegal drugsdealers who were protected come what may by Amsterdam's mayors, Amsterdam's bureaucrats and Amsterdam's City Police that I have grown into someone who
thinks guns ought to be easier available in Europe than they are now: I need to be able to defend myself against insane people and illegal criminals if the police and the officials simply refuse to do so.

If you are a European, you will probably differ, but then you also have not lived next to an insane person, nor above an illegal drugsshop that was defended by the City Police, the bureaucracy, the mayor and all aldermen.

[3] If you disagree: There is first the radical difference between the propaganda that nearly all politicians resort to in public, and their real policies, that are often quite different; and there also is a similar radical difference between the propaganda of the neoliberals ("Freedom!", "Freedom!", "Free Markets!", "Free Trade!", "No Taxes!", "No Governments!") and the actual content of neoliberalism (deregulations, much less taxes for the rich, much more freedoms and much more money for the rich at the cost of much more unfreedoms for the poor). Neoliberalism isn't liberal. It is deeply conservative and pro rich.

[4] Yes indeed - and the important thing is that the rich have mostly succeeded in getting what they wanted for 35 years now, in which also most formerly leftish parties were transformed to rightist parties with a limited "leftist" propaganda that turned around political correctness, "equality", and identity politics - none of which have much or anything to do with real leftism
as it existed until ca. 1980.

[5] A personal note: I saw I uploaded Bernays' "Propaganda" in the first half of 2012. I then did have the plan to write extensive comments on it, but
did not do it since then mostly because of my eyes, that have been really bad
and painful since June of 2012, and that only got considerably less painful in January/February of 2016. I am sorry. I still have the plan.


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