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Nederlog

Tuesday, Mar 28, 2017

Crisis: Trump & Bush, Cellphones & Laptops, Obamacare, Privacy Rules, Chomsky


Sections                                                                     crisis index
Introduction

1. Trump Insults the Media, but Bush Bullied and Defanged It to
     Sell the Iraq War

2. Lawsuit Seeks Transparency as Searches of Cellphones and
     Laptops Skyrocket at Borders

3.
After Republican Infighting Dooms GOP Healthcare Plan,
     Trump Vows to Let Obamacare "Explode"

4. Urgent Request From Electronic Frontier Foundation to Save
     Online Privacy Rules

5. Noam Chomsky: (..) Don't Put 'Aside the Possibility' of a
     'Staged or Alleged Terrorist Attack'

Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Tuesday
, March 28, 2017.

Summary: This is an ordinary
crisis log with five items and five dotted links: Item 1 is about some differences between Bush Jr. and Trump as regards dealings with the press; item 2 is about how the police requests cellphones and laptops at the borders of the USA; item 3 is about how Trump is planning to "explode" Obamacare; item 4 is about
the great danger that in the USA all privacy rules get scrapped; and item 5 is about a warning by Noam Chomsky: There may be a "staged or alleged" terrorist attack on the USA, which may change very many things.
March 28: As to the updating problem: The Danish site was again on time today; but the Dutch site now got stuck on Sunday March 26. It seems now that over a year of signs are correct, and this means that my Dutch site is now updated once a week - instead of immediately after (daily) updating, as xs4all succeeded in doing from 1996 till 2015.

Sorry mates, but I do not accept this. More later, for in this way I cannot run a decent website.

Where my site on xs4all.nl stuck for others I have NO idea AT ALL: It may be December 31, 2015. (They do want immediate payment if you are a week behind. Xs4all.nl has been destroying my site now for over a year. And I completely distrust them, but also do not know whether they are doing it or some secret service is.)

1. Trump Insults the Media, but Bush Bullied and Defanged It to Sell the Iraq War

The first article today is by Murtaza Hussain on The Intercept:

This starts as follows:

As we pass the 14th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, its chief progenitor is suddenly beloved by the mainstream media again.

Every time former President George W. Bush pops up somewhere these days, media pundits gush about how good he looks now, compared to Donald Trump. Recently, for instance, he described himself — and was dutifully portrayed as — a great supporter of the free press.

“I consider the media to be indispensable to democracy,” he told NBC’s Matt Lauer in early March. “That we need the media to hold people like me to account. I mean, power can be very addictive and it can be corrosive and it’s important for the media to call to account people who abuse their power, whether it be here or elsewhere.”

Yes indeed. I also registered Bush Jr.'s claim that he is a supporter of the free press.
And  in fact he was lying, as Murtaza Hussain explains:

But in reality, Bush was anything but a friend of the press during his presidency. Maybe he didn’t demonize it as much as Trump does — but he actively manipulated it and bullied it far worse and far more effectively than Trump has, much of it in the service of selling his marquee policy: the war in Iraq.

That illegal war destabilized Iraq and took the lives of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and the lives of over 4,000 American soldiers — many more in both countries continue to live with post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury, among other war wounds. Over the course of the conflict, the United States has spent over $2 trillion.

And although Trump is trying hard to delegitimize the press, which is highly dangerous and not to be underestimated, there’s little evidence his behavior is getting the press to back away from its accountability mission — like Bush did.

Yes. Here are two remarks:

First, I agree with Hussain that the war on Iraq was illegal and has killed (at least) several hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians (men, women and children).

Also, I like to add that - in my view, at least - it seems that the war on Iraq was launched by Bush Jr. mostly to undo the mistakes that - in Bush Jr.'s mind - were made by Bush Sr. in the first American war against Iraq, of 1991. I followed both wars fairly
closely, and I found it striking that immediately after 9/11 Iraq was accused of it by spokesmen for Bush Jr., all without the least evidence.

Second, I think Hussain is right in saying that one main difference between Bush Jr.  and Trump as regards the press is that Bush Jr. "actively manipulated it and bullied it far worse and far more effectively than Trump has" while Trump is attacking the press
for publishing "fake news" (etc. etc.). For Bush Jr.'s tactics worked, whereas Trump's tactics - so far, at least - did not work.

There is this on how Bush Jr. cajoled the press in the early 2000s:

By far the biggest and most tragic example of Bush making of mockery of the free press was the cascade of lies he and Dick Cheney told — and got away with — in the run-up to war in Iraq.

Almost all of the American mainstream media was cowed by the nationalistic fervor expressed by Bush in his November 2001 invocation that the nations of the world are “either with us or against us in the fight against terror.” The White House attacked those who raised too many questions as unpatriotic; newsroom leaders and their corporate masters were afraid of appearing out of step with the country.

There were plenty of what Trump counselor Kellyanne Conway calls “alternative facts” in the pattern of manipulation and deceit Bush used to build his case for the war in Iraq.

Yes, that seems all true to me, although I should add that this seems to me mostly
due to the cowardice and lack of principles of many journalists and editors (who care much more for money than for doing their jobs properly and responsibly).

There is a considerable amount more in the article, that I leave to your interests. The article ends as follows:

It’s much healthier for American journalism when the president is insulting journalists and refusing to play nice than making them laugh with him about a war based on lies.

Yes, I agree. And this seems mostly due to Trump's - wild, hysteric and hardly sane - attacks on the press and on journalists.

And this is a recommended article.

 2. Lawsuit Seeks Transparency as Searches of Cellphones and Laptops Skyrocket at Borders

The second article is by
Murtaza Hussain on The Intercept:

This starts as follows:

A lawsuit filed today by the Knight First Amendment Institute, a public interest legal organization based at Columbia University, seeks to shed light on invasive searches of laptops and cellphones by Customs and Border Protection officers at U.S. border crossings.

Documents filed in the case note that these searches have risen precipitously over the past two years, from a total of 5,000 searches in 2015 to 25,000 in 2016, and rising to 5,000 in the month of February 2017 alone. Among other questions, the lawsuit seeks to compel the federal government to provide more information about these searches, including how many of those searched have been U.S. citizens, the number of searches by port of entry, and the number of searches by the country of origin of the travelers.

These are all good questions by the Knight First Amendment Institute, and in fact I think this is about something more important than what is happening now at the borders of the USA (where policemen are claimed by the government to be free from the restrictions the Fourth Amendment imposes on them, which itself is a completely false and ridiculous argument):

This is about whether Trump's government, including his national security, will be allowed to found a police state, in which the police knows everything about any citizen, whereas no citizen knows anything about the police, or about what the police knows, and is effectively and legally vastly inferior to the policemen who steal their cellphones and laptops to find out (illegally) what kinds of persons they are.

Here is more on this:

Civil rights groups have long claimed that warrantless searches of cellphones and laptops by government agents constitute a serious invasion of privacy, due to the wealth of personal data often held on such devices. It is common for private conversations, photographs, and location information to be held on cellphones and laptops, making a search of these items significantly more intrusive than searching a simple piece of luggage.

A number of recent cases in the media have revealed instances of U.S. citizens and others being compelled by CBP agents to unlock their devices for search. In some instances, people have claimed to have been physically coerced into complying, including one American citizen who said that CBP agents grabbed him by the neck in order to take his cellphone out of his possession.

These are the methods of police states. For the moment, these methods are limited to the borders, but when the police starts bullying all Americans that they have to give their cellphones and laptops to the police to prove that they can be trusted that they are not terrorists, the USA is a police state.

In fact, the next step will be that every American citizen is requested (by law) to have a cellphone and a laptop, while these - and any other computing devices the citizens may have - must be fully accessible to the police.

And that will be the birth of full neofascism in the USA. The USA isn't there quite yet, but it is close, at least in my opinion (and please note that most of the laws are in place already: People can be arrested, and can be kept out of contact with the press, and can be locked up for a decade and a half without any trial, merely on the ground
of suspicion without any evidence).

This is a recommended article.

3. After Republican Infighting Dooms GOP Healthcare Plan, Trump Vows to Let Obamacare "Explode"

The third article is by Amy Goodman and Juan González on Democracy Now!:

This starts wih the following introduction:

Under President Obama, House Republicans voted more than 50 times to repeal or rewrite the Affordable Care Act. But on Friday, the House couldn’t muster the votes needed to pass its own healthcare law, which some call Trumpcare. Just minutes before the vote was scheduled, President Trump pushed House Speaker Paul Ryan to pull the legislation. The bill was opposed by every Democrat, as well as many members of the ultraconservative House Freedom Caucus and some moderate Republicans. For more. we speak with Dr. Steffie Woolhandler, co-founder of Physicians for a National Health Program. She is a professor at CUNY-Hunter College and a primary care physician. She is also a lecturer at Harvard Medical School.

Here is first president Trump on exploding Obamacare:

AMY GOODMAN: At the White House, President Trump warned he is now just going to let Obamacare explode.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Thank you very much. We were very close. It was a very, very tight margin. We had no Democrat support. We had no votes from the Democrats. They weren’t going to give us a single vote, so it’s a very difficult thing to do. I’ve been saying for the last year and a half that the best thing we can do, politically speaking, is let Obamacare explode. It is exploding right now. It’s—many states have big problems. Almost all states have big problems.

Actually, what Trump had been promising in his campaign was a better and cheaper health insurance for everyone - which was the bait that when taken was switched to a health insurance that at least 24 million persons simply could not pay for lack of money, while the very rich all got paid over a 100.000 dollar as a reward for not needing it, it seems.

In fact - health care for all being part of a free and democratic state - one may well ask what Trump and his government are trying to do: Aren't they trying to murder everyone who falls seriously ill, who happens to be too poor to pay the excessive premiums? It seems like that to me.

Here is more:
AMY GOODMAN: (..)

Meanwhile, Senator Bernie Sanders has announced he’ll soon introduce a bill to create single-payer healthcare. Several progressive groups are backing a single-payer system, including the Working Families Party, the Progressive Campaign Change Committee, CREDO, Social Security Works and National Nurses United.

We’re joined now by Dr. Steffie Woolhandler, co-founder of Physicians for a National Health Program, professor at CUNY-Hunter College, primary care physician, lecturer at Harvard Medical School.

I like Bernie Sanders' proposal, but it seems most unlikely to succeed before the Republicans have lost their dominance of the House and the Senate.

And here are dr. Steffie Woolhandler's ideas on Obamacare and Trump and his mates:

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: But when you say it was a victory, as Trump has said, he’s vowing to—he said he would let the Obamacare both implode and explode at the same time. But he is basically—what could he do now in—from an executive position, to be able to further damage the ability of people to access healthcare?

DR. STEFFIE WOOLHANDLER: Well, unfortunately, there’s a lot he can do through the regulatory process. You have to have regulatory underpinnings of a health law. And his secretary, Tom Price, secretary of health and human services, is a staunch opponent of the ACA who’s been trying to destroy the Affordable Care Act for years.
(..)
So I think we’re going to see the Affordable Care Act have death by a thousand cuts. They’re going to do everything they can, from a regulatory standpoint, from a funding standpoint, to undermine Obamacare, weaken it, you know, bleed it to death, if you will.
This means that those who have congratulated themselves on still having Obamacare are probably mistaken (!!): If you are poor then - in Donald Trump's presidential eyes - you have no right on health care, and indeed you are better of dead in case you fall ill.
(For this is what his - failed - program amounted to.)

Finally, here is dr. Woolhandler on why she also does not like Obamacare:
DR. STEFFIE WOOLHANDLER: I’m talking about right now, while Obamacare is fully in place, or, you know, January 1, Obamacare fully in place, there are 26 million uninsured Americans. That’s not universal healthcare. You know, that’s almost 10 percent of the population with no healthcare. And that’s why our physicians’ organization is saying we need to move forward to single payer. We need to insure those people.

I agree with her: It is a damned shame that the USA still is unable to insure everyone so that everyone has the right on decent health care.

There is considerably more in the article and it is recommended.

4. Urgent Request From Electronic Frontier Foundation to Save Online Privacy Rules

The fourth article is by Eric Ortiz on Truthdig:
This starts as follows:

Online privacy is under attack.

WATCH: What Is the Future of Net Neutrality Under Trump? 

On Monday, the Electronic Frontier Foundation sent an urgent request via email to its readers who signed up for information alerts to make them aware of the threat.

Unfortunately, I cannot watch what I am recommended to watch, because on the Firefox I use I can get the page after the "WATCH:" request, but I can see no links whatsoever there. (I suppose this is my Firefox, but I don't know.)

In any case, this is quite important:

Your Internet service provider knows a lot about you: the webpages you visit, the things you purchase, the people you talk to, and more. Last year, the federal government updated rules to ensure that the companies that act as gatekeepers to the Internet can’t compromise your privacy to make a profit. Those rules were a huge win for consumers and are set to go into effect this year.

But Congress—along with the ISPs looking to make more money off of their customers—is trying to change that. The Senate voted 50-48 to pass a measure last week that would repeal those rules, and the House is scheduled to vote tomorrow.

Because Congress is using a little-known tool called a Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution, it would also effectively prohibit the FCC from creating similar privacy rules in the future. That could leave consumers without a federal agency to protect them against privacy invasions by their ISPs.

And it’s not just following you around the Internet to sell your browsing records to advertisers that we’re worried about. If Congress repeals these rules, ISPs will be able to do things like hijack your Internet searches to redirect you to advertisers’ pages, show you additional ads, and use supercookies to track you even when you’re using pro-privacy settings like Incognito mode.

I say. All I add now is that I am glad I am not an American, although I fear that if these utterly sick rules have become law in the USA they may soon be transported to Europe.

5. Noam Chomsky: (..) Don't Put 'Aside the Possibility' of a 'Staged or Alleged Terrorist Attack'

The last article today is by Jan Frel on AlterNet:
This starts as follows:

It's March 2017, and the political process and the media in the U.S. are a depressing mess, on top of an ever-growing pile of issues that are not remotely being addressed, much less resolved by society: inequality, climate change, a global refugee crisis, you name it.

Donald Trump presents a new problem on top of the old familiar ones; a toxic multifront political disaster whose presence in the White House is doing damage to the national psyche on a daily basis. But in the first few months of his presidency it appears he is unwilling or unable to carry out almost any of the campaign promises he made to his base.
Yes. Also, while I like it that Trump appears to be "unwilling or unable to carry out almost any of the campaign promises he made to his base", he probably will be there until 2021.

Here are Chomsky's observations on what Trump is trying to do:
What Trump appears to be doing, Chomsky observed, is ramming through the standard GOP wish list: tax cuts, corporate welfare, climate change denial. How would Trump's voters react to that? What we need to worry about, Chomsky says, is the potential for the Trump administration to capitalize on a "staged or alleged" terrorist attack. The text of our interview follows.
Yes, indeed - and note the "staged or alleged" before "terrorist attack", which I think is quite justified, also because I am convinced that the 9/11 attack was quite different from how it was reported by the US government. (But I don't know the explanation for
this.)

And here is Noam Chomsky:
Noam Chomsky: (..) In order to maintain his popularity, the Trump administration will have to try to find some means of rallying the support and changing the discourse from the policies that they are carrying out, which are basically a wrecking ball to something else. Maybe scapegoating, saying, "Well, I'm sorry, I can't bring your jobs back because these bad people are preventing it." And the typical scapegoating goes to vulnerable people: immigrants, terrorists, Muslims and elitists, whoever it may be. And that can turn out to be very ugly. 

I think that we shouldn't put aside the possibility that there would be some kind of staged or alleged terrorist act, which can change the country instantly.

I agree.

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