Sunday, March 13, 2016

Bernie Bros Fiction  (Who Owns the New Media?)  Trumpus Fascist Ignoramus:  Trump's Joke on US (Obama So Wrong on Encryption)  Mafia Outs Farce:  Humanitarians Don Bill and Dona Hillary vs Don Jebbie  (When Will U.S. Be Greeced?)  Feeling the Bern Yet?

Donald Trump’s Presidential Bid Proves the US Electoral System is a F*cking Joke
Six Non-Corporate News Outlets You Should Be Following

The American Fascist

We Must All Renounce Trump's Dangerous Invitation to Violence

By Robert Reich
12 March 16
his morning, Donald Trump defended his supporters' right to "hit back" at campaign event protesters – one day after a Trump supporter was criminally charged for allegedly sucker-punching a black protester at a Trump rally in North Carolina Wednesday. Trump explained there have been "some violent people" at his rallies. "These are people that punch. People that are violent people.”

So far, no videos have emerged showing any protester at a Trump rally acting violently. In addition, there are police officers at these rallies officially authorized to keep order.

At a Las Vegas rally last month Trump said “I’d like to punch him in the face,” referring to a protester who had been removed. Trump then told the crowd: “You know what I hate? There’s a guy totally disruptive, throwing punches, we’re not allowed to punch back anymore. I love the ol’ days. You know what they used to do to guys like that when they were in a place like this? They’d be carried out on a stretcher, folks.”

This morning Trump elaborated: "The audience swung back. And I thought it was very, very appropriate. He was swinging. He was hitting people. And the audience hit back. And that's what we need a little bit more of."

We need more of? We need more white crowds at Trump events beating up black protesters? More protesters being carried out on stretchers?

It is up to all of us to renounce Trump’s dangerous invitation to violence. As Martin Luther King, Jr. once observed, “we will have to repent … not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people.”

Trumpus Ignoramus:  A Candidate and the Genius of Know-Nothingism

Who are these guys working for?

Not US.

(PROPUBLICA) Two years ago last month, I filed a public-records request to the Federal Emergency Management Agency as part of my reporting into the flawed response to Hurricane Sandy. Then, I waited.
The Freedom of Information Act requires a response within 20 business days, but agencies routinely blow that deadline. Eight months later, ProPublica and NPR published our investigation into the Sandy response, but it did not include any documents from FEMA. The agency had simply never gotten back to me.
Documents are the lifeblood of investigative journalism, but these problems aren’t of interest only to reporters. The Freedom of Information Act is supposed to deliver on the idea of a government “for and by the people,” whose documents are our documents. The ability to get information from the government is essential to holding the people in power accountable. This summer will mark the 50th anniversary of the law, which has been essential in disclosing the torture of detainees after 9/11, decades of misdeeds by the CIA, FBI informants who were allowed to break the law and hundreds of other stories.
President Obama himself waxed poetic about FOIA on his first full day in office in 2009, issuing a statement calling it “the most prominent expression of a profound national commitment to ensuring an open Government.” He promised that his would be “the most transparent administration in history.”
But Obama hasn’t delivered. In fact, FOIA has been a disaster under his watch.

Or perhaps a major success?

Newly uncovered documents (made public only through a FOIA lawsuit) show the Obama administration aggressively lobbying against reforms proposed in Congress. The Associated Press found last year that the administration had set a record for censoring or denying access to information requested under FOIA, and that the backlog of unanswered requests across the government had risen by 55 percent, to more than 200,000.

The Republican-led House Oversight and Government Reform Committee looked into the state of the public-records law and in January issued a report with a simple, devastating title: “FOIA Is Broken.”

Incredibly, it took my ProPublica colleague Michael Grabell more than seven years to get records about air marshal misconduct from the Transportation Security Administration. As he pointed out, his latest contact in the FOIA office was still in high school when Grabell filed his initial request.

After a reporter at NBC4 in Washington sought files related to the 2013 Navy Yard shooting, Navy officials actively strategized about how to thwart the request. The Navy only apologized after it mistakenly forwarded its internal email traffic to the reporter.

When a Mexican journalist asked the Drug Enforcement Administration in 2014 for files related to its role in the capture of drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, the agency sent a letter back demanding $1.4 million in fees to search its records.

“There’s a leadership void that has gotten worse,” veteran FOIA lawyer Scott Hodes told me. “It’s not treated as an important thing within the administration.”

Why is the law failing so badly after all the promises about transparency? My experience and the experience of other journalists suggests the reason is twofold:  incompetence and neglect.

When I probed a bit more into what had gone wrong at FEMA, the agency’s entire FOIA apparatus started to look like a Potemkin village of open government. The FOIA staff was never trained properly, a FEMA spokesman told me. Of 16 positions in the office, eight have long been vacant for reasons that are not entirely clear. The backlog of requests at FEMA has ballooned to 1,500. That’s more than double what it was less than two years ago.

Spokesman Rafael Lemaitre promised that the backlog was “frankly unacceptable to senior leadership here at FEMA, who have been aware of the problems and are taking actions to correct it.”

“Obviously the Freedom of Information Act is a very vital resource for taxpayers,” Lemaitre said. “Frankly, we haven’t done a very good job of fulfilling that promise.”

Over the past two years, whenever I periodically called or emailed for updates, agency staffers either ignored me, said their systems weren’t working or told me they didn’t have any new information.

My request outlasted the tenure of my original contact in the FOIA office. When I called 14 months into the process, I was told she had left the agency — fair enough, as people change jobs all the time. But my request had apparently not been handed off to anyone else. No one seemed to know what was going on.

Last year, the federal FOIA ombudsman found that FEMA took an average of 214 days to process complex FOIA requests, the third-worst in the Department of Homeland Security. (That compares to an average processing time for complex requests of 119 days across the rest of the government.) “A lack of responsiveness prompted lawsuits that cost the agency a bunch of money,” said James Holzer, the head of the ombudsman’s office, who praised FEMA officials for at least recognizing the problem.

A hiring freeze at the agency after sequestration didn’t help matters. But officials told Holzer’s investigators last year that the eight long-vacant positions in the public records office would be filled as early as last fall. Today, those jobs remain empty. The FEMA spokesman didn’t have an explanation for what’s taking so long.

When I tried to find out whether anyone had been held responsible for the fiasco, I didn’t find much more transparency. “I cannot discuss any personnel issues, unfortunately,” the spokesman told me.
Has the agency at least set a specific goal for when it will get through its backlog? “Our target is to get these cleared as quickly as possible — I don’t have a date for you.”

It becomes more and more difficult every day to maintain that "it's the mean, mean, meany Republicans who were really responsible for all the Obama misses" complex.

And his championing of Hillary seals the deal (as we know he truly doesn't like or admire her much at all).

And, yet, those mean Republicans . . .

Who are damn mean.

Are laughing at us.

The “Bernie Bros” Narrative:  a Cheap Campaign Tactic Masquerading as Journalism and Social Activism

I remember when I first heard the mythical tale of the "Bernie Bros," and thought "If only."

Hilarity ensued. The only "Bro-ish" activity I'd seen came from the clearly outthought neolibs backing Hillary (h/t Rahmbo, the Bankster Boys and the techno whizzers).

And, boy, (emphasis boy), are they angry.

6 Independent News Sources That Sold Out to the Highest Bidder

The following six examples mark the most egregious recent sell-outs in online journalism.
By March 12, 2016
One of the most powerful propaganda tools is still print journalism. Though most sources have migrated to digital platforms and now integrate video and social media avenues in order to stay relevant, acquisitions of news publications remain an insidious way to control mainstream narratives.
The following six examples mark the most egregious recent sell-outs in online journalism:
The Huffington Post
Arianna Huffington’s namesake media empire, "The Huffington Post," originated in 2005 as a liberal news aggregating alternative to the "Drudge Report." It even won a Pulitzer Prize in 2012. However, the writing was already on the wall, as one year earlier, Huffington sold "HuffPo" to AOL for $315 million.

The acquisition caused many to question whether major corporate influence would dramatically affect the publication. Unsurprisingly, the answer was ‘yes,’ as within a few short years the website became a pro-corporate mainstream media vessel watered down with anemic liberal platitudes. These days, "HuffPo" is little more than clickbait with pulse, a partisan aggregator of trending stories that rarely, if ever, questions the symbiotic nature of state and corporate messaging.

Take these hard-hitting headlines as anecdotal evidence:

10 Things to do with Mac ‘n’ Cheese Before you Die

Japan earthquake and god’s will

Could nuclear war reverse global warming?

PHOTOS: 9 Politicians Eating Pizza

Last year, Verizon acquired AOL, making it the de facto owner of "HuffPo," further consolidating control of the publication into the hands of heavily compromised corporate interests.

Vice Media

Longtime countercultural icon "Vice" shocked more than a few people when it sold 5% of its stock to stalwart conservative ideologue and media tycoon, Rupert Murdoch and his 21st Century Fox. Many immediately saw the $70 million stake as a social engineering chess move by the mogul.

Last year, Disney injected "Vice" with an additional $200 million, to which A&E added $250 million for a 10% share.

Now worth $2.5 billion, the former Montreal-based punk magazine masquerades as an indie renegade news brand that reports from the most extreme geopolitical nooks and crannies on the globe. In actuality,"Vice" functions as a kind of Trojan horse for nationalist propaganda while also providing advertisers with an invaluable data mining tool. Between social media and entities like "Vice," the establishment has unfettered access to the hearts and mind of ostensibly anti-establishment millennials.

A Reddit thread documents how "Vice" was a propaganda machine from the get-go. Check out this interview with co-founder Shane Smith about sponsorship deals. Further evidencing "Vice"’s newfound biases, “on at least two occasions, it wove documentary footage into promotions for advertisers. In another instance, a months-long investigative project was killed, apparently out of concern about its effect on a major sponsor,” the "Washington Post" recently reported.

National Geographic

It turned out Rupert Murdoch had another trick up his sleeve last year, when 21st Century Fox announced the stunning 73% acquisition of "National Geographic." Suddenly, the respected yellow bound nature magazine, which for 127 years had been a non-profit, was taken over by the same climate change denier who presides over "Fox News."

While it remains to be seen how big of an impact the new ownership will have over "Nat Geo"’s journalistic integrity, it’s hard to imagine it won’t have a deleterious effect. Already, Murdoch has fired most of the longtime, celebrated staff of the magazine — 180 staffers, including photographers and designers — and critics have noted Murdoch’s penchant for changing the editorial direction of recently-acquired publications. Whether this will mean blatant revisionism with regard to climate change remains to be seen.

The Onion

"The Onion" is one of the most beloved publications on the internet. For years, their hilariously gut-wrenching satirical headlines have perfectly encapsulated America’s hypocrisies with unflinching, often brutal honesty. Earlier this year, Univision bought a 40% controlling interest in the company, which includes the right to buy the site, as well as ownership over the sister satire site, Clickhole.

"The Intercept" points out an interesting fact:  one of Hillary Clinton’s biggest supporters and financial backers is Univision co-owner and chairman Haim Saban.

Conflict of interest? Let’s do a bit of comparison.

Consider this pre-acquisition headline: “Hillary Clinton To Nation:  ‘Do Not Fuck This Up For Me.” And now, this post-acquisition headline: “Female Presidential Candidate Who Was United States Senator, Secretary Of State Told To Be More Inspiring.”

And incidentally, Saban has been brazen about his political meddling in the Democratic Party. According to "The Intercept," he has openly stated the three ways to manipulate American politics are political donations, think tanks, and controlling media outlets. Check, check, and check.


Reddit is a social bookmarking and news aggregation site that has somewhat of a cult following. After outpacing competitors Digg and StumbleUpon, Reddit is now visited by 6% of all adults who use the Internet, garnering three billion page views a month. A huge part of this meteoric rise was its 2006 acquisition by Conde Naste. Since then, its valuation has soared from $20 million to an estimated $240 million.

The real price, however, may have been the site’s integrity. After its acquisition and the departure of founder Steve Huffman, Reddit has been riddled with accusations of censorship and “manufactured consensus.” "Anti-Media" documented these charges last year, detailing blatant cases of administrative censorship, rampant trolling by shills, guerilla propaganda wars, branded and celebrity-sponsored AMA’s, and more.

Blue Nation Review

Last year, Hillary Clinton ally David Brock acquired "Blue Nation Review," a long-time staple of independent liberal journalism. If you thought the Onion purchase was bad, this one is outright awful. The Hillary Clinton camp now essentially controls its very own media outlet. Recent headlines include “Hated By Insiders, Loved by the People – Hillary Clinton Is the Great American Populist.”

Since Brock’s 80% acquisition, the entire BNR staff has been replaced.

What To Read Instead

We’re not necessarily saying you have to completely disavow these sources because of their new corporate overlords, but it is good to stay grounded with independent news. This article lists six non-corporate news outlets to follow. While you’re at it, you may as well add yours truly, "Anti-Media." Corporate influence will never compromise our journalistic integrity.

Obama. Obama. Obama.

Stop reading other people's scripts.

Especially about software.

It doesn't go with your regular cool demeanor.

And sounds downright silly to those with real technology backgrounds.

Read on for a clue.

(No, really. He's brilliant at everything, isn't he?)

President Obama Is Wrong On Encryption; Claims The Realist View Is 'Absolutist'

from the get-real dept
This is not all that surprising, but President Obama, during his SXSW keynote interview, appears to have joined the crew of politicians making misleading statements pretending to be "balanced" on the question of encryption. The interview (the link above should start at the very beginning) talks about a variety of issues related to tech and government, but eventually the President zeroes in on the encryption issue. The embed below should start at that point (if not, it's at the 1 hour, 16 minute mark in the video). Unfortunately, the interviewer, Evan Smith of the Texas Tribune, falsely frames the issue as one of "security v. privacy" rather than what it actually is - which is "security v. security.

In case you can't watch that, the President says he won't comment directly on the Apple legal fights, but then launches into the standard politician talking point of "yes, we want strong encryption, but bad people will use it so we need to figure out some way to break in."

If you watch that, the President is basically doing the same thing as all the Presidential candidates, stating that there's some sort of equivalency on both sides of the debate and that we need to find some sort of "balanced" solution short of strong encryption that will somehow let in law enforcement in some cases.

This is wrong. This is "ignorant."

To his at least marginal credit, the President (unlike basically all of the Presidential candidates) did seem to acknowledge the arguments of the crypto community, but then tells them all that they're wrong. In some ways, this may be slightly better than those who don't even understand the actual issues at all, but it's still problematic.

Let's go through this line by line.

All of us value our privacy. And this is a society that is built on a Constitution and a Bill of Rights and a healthy skepticism about overreaching government power. Before smartphones were invented, and to this day, if there is probable cause to think that you have abducted a child, or that you are engaging in a terrorist plot, or you are guilty of some serious crime, law enforcement can appear at your doorstep and say 'we have a warrant to search your home' and they can go into your bedroom to rifle through your underwear to see if there's any evidence of wrongdoing.
Again, this is overstating the past and understating today's reality. Yes, you could always get a warrant to go "rifle through" someone's underwear, if you could present probable cause that such a search was reasonable to a judge. But that does not mean that the invention of smartphones really changed things so dramatically as President Obama presents here. For one, there has always been information that was inaccessible - such as information that came from an in-person conversation or information in our brains or information that has been destroyed.

In fact, as lots of people have noted, today law enforcement has much more recorded evidence that it can obtain, totally unrelated to the encryption issue. This includes things like location information or information on people you called. That information used to not be available at all. So it's hellishly misleading to pretend that we've entered some new world of darkness for law enforcement when the reality is that the world is much, much brighter.

And we agree on that. Because we recognize that just like all our other rights, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, etc. there are going to be some constraints that we impose in order to make sure that we are safe, secure and living in a civilized society. Now technology is evolving so rapidly that new questions are being asked. And I am of the view that there are very real reasons why we want to make sure that government cannot just willy-nilly get into everyone's iPhones, or smartphones, that are full of very personal information and very personal data. And, let's face it, the whole Snowden disclosure episode elevated people's suspicions of this.


That was a real issue. I will say, by the way, that - and I don't want to go to far afield - but the Snowden issue, vastly overstated the dangers to US citizens in terms of spying. Because the fact of the matter is that actually that our intelligence agencies are pretty scrupulous about US persons - people on US soil. What those disclosures did identify were excesses overseas with respect to people who are not in this country. A lot of those have been fixed. Don't take my word for it -- there was a panel that was constituted that just graded all the reforms that we set up to avoid those charges. But I understand that that raised suspicions.
Again, at least some marginal kudos for admitting that this latest round was brought on by "excesses" (though we'd argue that it was actually unconstitutional, rather than mere overreach). And nice of him to admit that Snowden actually did reveal such "excesses." Of course, that raises a separate question: Why is Obama still trying to prosecute Snowden when he's just admitted that what Snowden did was clearly whistleblowing, in revealing questionable spying?

Also, the President is simply wrong that it was just about issues involving non-US persons. The major reform that has taken place wasn't about US persons at all, but rather about Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act, which was used almost entirely on US persons to collect all their phone records. So it's unclear why the President is pretending otherwise. The stuff outside of the US is governed by Executive Order 12333, and there's been completely no evidence that the President has changed that at all. I do agree, to some extent, that many do believe in an exaggerated view of NSA surveillance, and that's distracting. But the underlying issues about legality and constitutionality - and the possibilities for abuse - absolutely remain.

But none of that actually has to do with the encryption fight, beyond the recognition - accurately - that the government's actions, revealed by Snowden, caused many to take these issues more seriously. And, on that note, it would have been at least a little more accurate for the President to recognize that it wasn't Snowden who brought this on the government, but the government itself by doing what it was doing.

So we're concerned about privacy. We don't want government to be looking through everybody's phones willy-nilly, without any kind of oversight or probable cause or a clear sense that it's targeted who might be a wrongdoer.

What makes it even more complicated is that we also want really strong encryption. Because part of us preventing terrorism or preventing people from disrupting the financial system or our air traffic control system or a whole other set of systems that are increasingly digitalized is that hackers, state or non-state, can just get in there and mess them up.

So we've got two values. Both of which are important.... And the question we now have to ask is, if technologically it is possible to make an impenetrable device or system where the encryption is so strong that there's no key. There's no door at all. Then how do we apprehend the child pornographer? How do we solve or disrupt a terrorist plot? What mechanisms do we have available to even do simple things like tax enforcement? Because if, in fact, you can't crack that at all, government can't get in, then everybody's walking around with a Swiss bank account in their pocket. So there has to be some concession to the need to be able get into that information somehow.
The answer to those questions in that final paragraph are through good old fashioned detective work. In a time before smartphones, detectives were still able to catch child pornographers or disrupt terrorist plots. And, in some cases, the government failed to stop either of those things. But it wasn't because strong enforcement stymied them, but because there are always going to be some plots that people are able to get away with. We shouldn't undermine our entire security setup just because there are some bad people out there. In fact, that makes us less safe.

Also: tax enforcement? Tax enforcement? Are we really getting to the point that the government wants to argue that we need to break strong encryption to better enforce taxes? Really? Again, there are lots of ways to go after tax evasion. And, yes, there are lots of ways that people and companies try to hide money from the IRS. And sometimes they get away with it. To suddenly say that we should weaken encryption because the IRS isn't good enough at its job just seems... crazy.

Now, what folks who are on the encryption side will argue, is that any key, whatsoever, even if it starts off as just being directed at one device, could end up being used on every device. That's just the nature of these systems. That is a technical question. I am not a software engineer. It is, I think, technically true, but I think it can be overstated.
This is the part that's most maddening of all. He almost gets the point right. He almost understands. The crypto community has been screaming from the hills for ages that introducing any kind of third party access to encryption weakens it for all, introducing vulnerabilities that ensure that those with malicious intent will get in much sooner than they would otherwise. The President is mixing up that argument with one of the other arguments in the Apple/FBI case, about whether it's about "one phone" or "all the phones."

But even assuming this slight mixup is a mistake, and that he does recognize the basics of the arguments from the tech community, to have him then say that this "can be overstated" is crazy. A bunch of cryptography experts - including some who used to work for Obama - laid out in a detailed paper the risks of undermining encryption. To brush that aside as some sort of rhetorical hyperbole - to brush aside the realities of cryptography and math - is just crazy.

Encryption expert Matt Blaze (whose research basically helped win Crypto War 1.0) responded to this argument by noting that the "nerd harder, nerds" argument fundamentally misunderstands the issue:

If you can't read that, Blaze is basically saying that all crypto includes backdoors - they're known as vulnerabilities. And the key focus in crypto is closing those backdoors, because leaving them open is disastrous. And yet the government is now demanding that tech folks purposely put in more backdoors and not close them, without recognizing the simple fact that vulnerabilities in crypto always lead to disastrous results.

So the question now becomes that, we as a society, setting aside the specific case between the FBI and Apple, setting aside the commercial interests, the concerns about what could the Chinese government do with this, even if we trust the US government. Setting aside all those questions, we're going to have to make some decisions about how do we balance these respective risks. And I've got a bunch of smart people, sitting there, talking about it, thinking about it. We have engaged the tech community, aggressively, to help solve this problem. My conclusions so far is that you cannot take an absolutist view on this. So if your argument is "strong encryption no matter what, and we can and should in fact create black boxes," that, I think, does not strike the kind of balance that we have lived with for 200, 300 years. And it's fetishizing our phones above every other value. And that can't be the right answer.
This is not an absolutist view. It is not an absolutist view to say that anything you do to weaken the security of phones creates disastrous consequences for overall security, far beyond the privacy of individuals holding those phones. And, as Julian Sanchez rightly notes, it's ridiculous that it's the status quo on the previous compromise that is now being framed as an "absolutist" position:

Also, the idea that this is about "fetishizing our phones" is ridiculous. No one is even remotely suggesting that. No one is even suggesting - as Obama hints - that this is about making phones "above and beyond" what other situations are. It's entirely about the nature of computer security and how it works. It's about the risks to our security in creating deliberate vulnerabilities in our technologies. To frame that as "fetishizing our phones" is insulting.

There's a reason why the NSA didn't want President Obama to carry a Blackberry when he first became President. And there's a reason the President wanted a secure Blackberry. And it's not because of fetishism in any way, shape or form. It's because securing data on phones is freaking hard and it's a constant battle. And anything that weakens the security puts people in harm's way.

I suspect that the answer is going to come down to how do we create a system where the encryption is as strong as possible. The key is as secure as possible. It is accessible by the smallest number of people possible for a subset of issues that we agree are important. How we design that is not something that I have the expertise to do. I am way on the civil liberties side of this thing. Bill McCraven will tell you that I anguish a lot over the decisions we make over how to keep this country safe. And I am not interested in overthrowing the values that have made us an exceptional and great nation, simply for expediency. But the dangers are real. Maintaining law and order and a civilized society is important. Protecting our kids is important.
You suspect wrong. Because while your position sounds reasonable and "balanced" (and I've seen some in the press describe President Obama's position here as "realist"), it's actually dangerous. This is the problem. The President is discussing this like it's a political issue rather than a technological/math issue. People aren't angry about this because they're "extremists" or "absolutists" or people who "don't want to compromise." They're screaming about this because "the compromise" solution is dangerous. If there really were a way to have strong encryption with a secure key where only a small number of people could get in on key issues, then that would be great.

But the key point that all of the experts keep stressing is:  that's not reality. So, no the President's not being a "realist." He's being the opposite.

So I would just caution against taking an absolutist perspective on this. Because we make compromises all the time. I haven't flown commercial in a while, but my understanding is that it's not great fun going through security. But we make the concession because - it's a big intrusion on our privacy - but we recognize that it is important. We have stops for drunk drivers. It's an intrusion. But we think it's the right thing to do. And this notion that somehow our data is different and can be walled off from those other trade-offs we make, I believe is incorrect.
Again, this is not about "making compromises" or some sort of political perspective. And the people arguing for strong encryption aren't being "absolutist" about it because they're unwilling to compromise. They're saying that the "compromise" solution means undermining the very basis of how we do security and putting everyone at much greater risk. That's ethically horrific.

And, also, no one is saying that "data is different." There has always been information that is "walled off." What people are saying is that one consequence of strong encryption is that it has to mean that law enforcement is kept out of that information too. That does not mean they can't solve crimes in other ways. It does not mean that they don't get access to lots and lots of other information. It just means that this kind of content is harder to access, because we need it to be harder to access to protect everyone.

It's not security v. privacy. It's security v. security, where the security the FBI is fighting for is to stop the 1 in a billion attack and the security everyone else wants is to prevent much more likely and potentially much more devastating attacks. Meanwhile, of all the things for the President to cite as an analogy, TSA security theater may be the worst. Very few people think it's okay, especially since it's been shown to be a joke. Setting that up as the precedent for breaking strong encryption is... crazy. And, on top of that, using the combination of TSA security and DUI checkpoints as evidence for why we should break strong encryption with backdoors again fails to recognize the issue at hand. Neither of those undermine an entire security setup.

We do have to make sure, given the power of the internet and how much our lives are digitalized, that it is narrow and that it is constrained and that there's oversight. And I'm confident this is something that we can solve, but we're going to need the tech community, software designers, people who care deeply about this stuff, to help us solve it. Because what will happen is, if everybody goes to their respective corners, and the tech community says "you know what, either we have strong perfect encryption, or else it's Big Brother and Orwellian world," what you'll find is that after something really bad happens, the politics of this will swing and it will become sloppy and rushed and it will go through Congress in ways that have not been thought through. And then you really will have dangers to our civil liberties, because the people who understand this best, and who care most about privacy and civil liberties have disengaged, or have taken a position that is not sustainable for the general public as a whole over time.
I have a lot of trouble with the President's line about everyone going to "their respective corners," as it suggests a ridiculous sort of tribalism in which the natural state is the tech industry against the government and even suggests that the tech industry doesn't care about stopping terrorism or child pornographers. That, of course, is ridiculous. It's got nothing to do with "our team." It has to do with the simple realities of encryption and the fact that what the President is suggesting is dangerous.

Furthermore, it's not necessarily the "Orwellian/big brother" issue that people are afraid of. That's a red herring from the "privacy v. security" mindset. People are afraid of this making everyone a lot less safe. No doubt, the President is right that if there's "something really bad" happening then the politics moves in one way - but it's pretty ridiculous for him to be saying that, seeing as the latest skirmish in this battle is being fought by his very own Justice Department, he's the one who jumped on the San Bernardino attacks as an excuse to push this line of argument.

If the President is truly worried about stupid knee-jerk reactions following "something bad" happening, rather than trying to talk about "balance" and "compromise," he could and should be doing more to fairly educate the American public, and to make public statements about this issue and how important strong encryption is. Enough of this bogus "strong encryption is important, but... the children" crap. The children need strong encryption. The victims of crimes need encryption. The victims of terrorists need encryption. Undermining all that because just a tiny bit of information is inaccessible to law enforcement is crazy. It's giving up the entire ballgame to those with malicious intent, just so that we can have a bit more information in a few narrow cases.

President Obama keeps mentioning trade-offs, but it appears that he refuses to actually understand the trade-offs at issue here. Giving up on strong encryption is not about finding a happy middle compromise. Giving up on strong encryption is putting everyone at serious risk.

So, the smart phone/computer is the red queen (Queen of Diamonds) in this scenario (h/t "The Manchurian Candidate").

Not a precise metaphor.

But close enough for government work.

In Orwellian Times a Clown Wants to Be Emperor

Mar 10, 2016
Interview of Gilbert Mercier with Utrice Leid

March 7, 2016

Donald Trump, the frontrunner among Republican candidates in the 2016 United States presidential race, has an admirer in Jean-Marie Le Pen, founder of the far-right, trenchantly racist National Front party in France. Gilbert Mercier, Editor-in-Chief of News Junkie Post and author of The Orwellian Empire draws parallels between the ascendancy and growing appeal of Trump and that of Le Pen.

Utrice Leid. First up, we talk about Donald Trump speaking American ugly with a French accent! We are going to discuss the parallels between Donald Trump and Jean-Marie Le Pen with our dear friend, Gilbert Mercier, Editor-in-Chief of News Junkie Post. What did you think when Jean-Marie decided Donald Trump was a kindred spirit? 

Gilbert Mercier. Jean-Marie Le Pen has officially endorsed Donald Trump. Even though, he is not the leader of the Front National anymore, his daughter [Marine Le Pen] took over.  He is still a founding member. He works in the same nebuleuses of the other far-right parties in Europe. At the end of February, Le Pen endorsed Donald Trump on tweeter and stated: “If I were American, I would vote Donald Trump.” Trump has been falsely called by a lot of his supporters, “the international leader of the populist revolt against the elites.” But this is really a joke, just like anything that has to do with Donald Trump, and to some extend to Jean-Marie Le Pen.

Both Trump and Le Pen are very much part of the establishment, very much part of the elite. Their crass populism, if you wish, appeals mainly to blue-collar middle-aged racist white males. It is very specific, and it works wonders in both France and the US.

Economically, however, they are very much privileged people, they just pretend to be ordinary people. It is really a mockery! Trump is a caricature of what can be called, fairly or unfairly, the ugly American:  he is crude, he is rude, he is racist and sexist. He is vulgar, and that makes him a very attractive leading man in what I called the lowest common denominator empire in my recently published book. It is a show, and Donald Trump is a showman! In the scripted reality TV show that is US politics, politics as spectacle, Donald Trump serves in many ways as a scarecrow, sort of a decoy, to ultimately get Hillary Clinton elected. And it will work beautifully to get Hillary Clinton the African-American vote, the Latino vote, and of course the women’s vote.

UL. What is it about Jean-Marie Le Pen, and how did he become such a high profile figure in France, and do you think that there is a parallel with Trump in the US?

GM. Jean-Marie Le Pen was very much involved in the murky times of the war in Algeria, in favor of the French generals who wanted to overthrow the French government and did not want peace with Algeria, which de Gaulle eventually imposed in 1962. He was also a paratrooper in Indochina during the nasty war France had there in the early 1950s.

He is sort of the heir of what was called in France at the turn of the century [20th] Action Francaise. They were anti-semitic, anti- foreigner, and an inspiration, in many ways, for the rise of the Nazis in Germany. Maurras, one of the writers of Action Francaise, was an inspiration for Adolf Hitler. Jean-Marie Le Pen has stated that a lot of the stories about world war II were fabricated, that the holocaust was not that bad. Jean-Marie Le Pen is really a neo-Nazi. That is what he is at heart.

The anti-immigration stand of Trump echoes the main political platform of the European far-right, not only in France but also in the Netherlands. The rise of Trump, as matter of fact, is really a concern specifically in Germany. It was expressed on March 6 by Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel who stated that just like Marine Le Pen, the daughter of Jean-Marie Le Pen and current leader of the Front National, and Geert Wilders in the Netherlands, “Trump was not only a threat for peace and social cohesion, but also to economic development.” In a parallel fashion, Angela Merkel paid tribute recently to Hillary Clinton in statements that are a de facto endorsement of the Democrat front runner. The political establishment in Europe obviously wants Hillary Clinton to be elected. There is a great deal of fascination for US politics in France and in Europe in general. It is entertaining… it is kind of showbiz, and that is why Trump is so perfect, in that context.

UL. One would have thought that by now, since Trump has disavowed any association with the Ku Klux Klan when David Duke, former grand wizard, I like the title these folks have, tried to endorse him, he would have said similarly to Jean-Marie: thanks but no thanks for the endorsement. But he hasn’t…..

GM. Oh yes of course, but you see, the problem with an endorsement from the KKK in the US is that it is a loaded gun! You cannot have that. Even though they have the same agenda of racism and exclusion, Jean-Marie Le Pen does not have the same connotation as the KKK in the US. Donald Trump’s function is like the one of Bernie Sanders:  it is to give the illusion that there is a real choice, a real democratic process in the US. But the thing is … the puppet masters of the Orwellian empire have already determined that Hillary Clinton would make a fine president. There is an interview of Henry Kissinger on NPR, in a Scott Simon show, about a year ago …. When asked about the upcoming election, Henry Kissinger said: well, I am a Republican so I would not support a Democrat… but yes, my good friend Hillary Clinton would make a fine president. So, here you have it, from Henry Kissinger himself! It is kind of farce.

It is incredible, as far as the Clintons (go), that despite the misdeeds of both Bill and Hillary in Haiti, which they have been running more or less like plantation owners since the earthquake, Hillary will get most of the black vote. Thanks to Trump’s outrageous statement about the wall [with Mexico] and of kicking out 11 million Mexicans, she will get the Hispanic vote, and of course Trump’s sexism will get Hillary the women’s vote.

Read the entire essay here.
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As Reckless As George W. Bush:  Hillary Clinton Helped Create Disorder in Iraq, Libya, Syria — and, Scarier, Doesn’t Seem To Understand How

American primacy at all cost. That's her dangerous guiding mission. Only Bush, Nixon loved imperial adventure more

Bill Clinton’s Odious Presidency:  Thomas Frank on the Real History of the ’90s

Welfare reform. NAFTA. The crime bill. Prisons. Aides wondered if Bill knew who he was. His legacy is sadly clear

They’re Not Eviscerating Trump:  John Oliver and Stephen Colbert Will Never Save Us from Fascism

What I've always enjoyed (pervertedly) is when the serious history I've studied is revealed. . . usually devastatingly . . . to be comedy. Bad comedy.

Scurrilous comedy.

Rather like a Billy Crystal/Bob DeNiro comedy redux with lots of horses' heads popping up out of the Italian knit sheets at dull moments in the dialogue.

The good news is that all the funny feelings I've had throughout this current farce have been revealed tellingly just recently to be en pointe.

Darkly en pointe.

I can't help recalling after reading the Frank essay how I felt during the 90's after I'd spent countless months working for Billy&Hilly C's victory to find that not only did we not get some type of improvement in health care coverage and costs, but that we didn't get anything but benefit-less contract jobs as the new formal employment choices. As a victim of the downturn in engineering jobs in the early 90's after the end of the Cold War, this was a particularly sore point with me (and all my laid-off friends) and poor reward for our efforts and loyalty to the duo's much-touted takeover of the economy (stupid) from the Reagan/Bush disasters rhetoric.

The peculiarly resonant moment of realization of mistakes made occurred when it became clear that they had almost adopted as one of their own Newt Gingrich (not to mention being adopted by GHWB) whose plans for those who had lost their jobs were to adopt some form of nonprofit corruption mirroring his own:  entrepreneurship in government-funded jobs! That is, forming nonprofits and ripping off government programs as being ideal ways of finding employment as seen here and here and here and here.


So needed to rebuild America (according to the popular rhetoric).

Lots and lots of engineers left blowing in the wind.

Ah. Those definitely were the days.

(And it hasn't been that long since I've mentioned the Bush Clinton bush clinton progression theory emanating from that connected timeframe, right?)

To understand the undemocratic and extremely seedy side of US modern-day politics, it would be imperative for our time traveler, de Tocqueville in training, to watch two classics of American cinema: “The Godfather” and “The Godfather Part II”. Director Francis Ford Coppola, in his fictional, yet extremely well-researched and documented films, invited us inside the US’ underbelly. During the 19th century and up to the early 20th century, massive numbers of poor immigrants, mainly Italians, Irish and Jews from eastern Europe, were lured to the Americas largely to escape economic hardship.

Those who landed in the US quickly understood that they were excluded from or at best marginalized in this promised land run by white Anglo-Saxon Protestants. The more ambitious ones, unencumbered by moral boundaries, developed their own form of government and social code of conduct in the form of a tightly knit family-like structure that usually strictly followed ethnic lines. The birth of organized crime in the US, either Italian, Jewish or Irish, was a direct consequence of the fight for survival of communities that were deliberately excluded from power or even any political discourse.

Mafia families had a strictly enforced code of conduct and precise hierarchy, with a Don (boss) at the top; a consiglierie (adviser to the head of the family) directly picked by the Don; an under boss who was usually groomed to be the Don’s successor; capos (the lieutenants), and “soldiers”. In the 1930s, under the supervision of Lucky Luciano, the Don of all Dons, not only the five Italian mafia families worked together, but they also collaborated on many occasions with the Jewish and Irish mafia. In this parallel brand of power and economy, mafia families extracted contributions (a primitive form of taxation of usually 10 percent of income) from businesses, ironically to protect them from random criminal activity. By the mid-1930s mafia families controlled large sections of the US economy. The prohibition of alcoholic beverages, which spanned from 1920 to 1933, marked the apogee of the mafia families, either Italian, Jewish or Irish. The mob controlled the flow of liquor, and Americans were thirsty.

During the prohibition era, Joe Kennedy (father of John F. Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy), the patriarch of a family that passed for being true US aristocracy although he had been the grandson of a dirt-poor potato-famine Irish immigrant, substantially increased his vast fortune by importing, from the UK and Canada, and selling illicit liquor in association with Italian-American Don Frank Costello and Jewish gangster Meyer Lansky.

Joe Kennedy had an edge on the competition:  he went into the prohibition era in 1920 with large stocks of booze from his father’s own stores. In what cannot be a coincidence, on the day prohibition ended 13 years later, Joe Kennedy had three exclusive deals to import British whiskey and gin, as well as an extensive network of retailers already in place. Kennedy understood that his political ambitions for his sons would require vast amounts of money. Like any mafia bosses, Don Joe Kennedy wanted to start a dynasty at any cost and regardless of moral or even legal considerations. In the US, money meant power, and this notion was the motto for both supposed blue-blood patriarch Kennedy and Don Lucky Luciano.

Arguably, the first term of George H. Bush, founder of the Bush dynasty, started in 1980 when he officially became Vice President or, to use the mafia term, super under boss to Ronald Reagan, an aging actor, perhaps already senile, hired to perform the role of global Don:  “Leader of the free world” and most powerful man on earth, according to US mainstream media propaganda.

Bush Sr. had previously run the Central Intelligence Agency. During the two terms of the Reagan administration (1980 to 1988), it was common knowledge that Bush Sr was the boss who led US policy. He officially became the Don in 1988, and ran his own operation with pretty much the same crew until 1992.

James Baker was the key consigliere to Don Bush Sr, but he also listened closely to the Talleyrand of US politics, consigliere extraordinaire Henry Kissinger. Bush Sr’s under boss was Donald Rumsfeld who picked his capo in the person of Dick Cheney. George W. Bush or Bush Jr, when his turn came, kept most of the old Don’s crew with some minor changes and additions. Cheney became the under boss, while Rumsfeld took the vital Pentagon portfolio.

Before George W. Bush’s turn, the Clinton dynasty came along in 1992, courtesy of WallMart, and with the firm intention, as an obligation to their sponsors, to facilitate a global corporate imperialist agenda. With the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Don Bill Clinton went the extra mile for the benefit of his friends in transnational corporations.

Bill Clinton became a favorite of Wall Street’s investment banks, such as Goldman Sachs, by being instrumental in the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act which was voted in 1933 during the Great Depression in the aftermath of the 1929 Wall Street crash. The Glass-Steagall Act limited commercial banks securities activities, and it clearly separated commercial banking from investment banking, to curtail speculation. The repeal of this Act allowed Wall Street investment banks to gamble money that was held in commercial banks, and this was arguably one of the lead systemic factors in the 2008 global financial-market crash.

Don Clinton’s consigliere was mainly first-lady Hillary, but he also took the advice of the other super-consigliere besides Kissinger:  Polish-born Zbigniew Brzezinski. Consigliere Brzezinski started his career in 1966 when he advised Lyndon B. Johnson. He returned in the late 1970s to advise Jimmy Carter. When he was Carter’s consigliere, Brzezinski came up with the idea to finance and arm the Mujahideen in Afghanistan to fight the Soviet Union.

Don Clinton’s under boss was Leon Panetta, and the lead capo was Rahm Emanuel. When Dona Hillary Clinton lost what she viewed as being her turn in the driver’s seat, both the Clinton and Bush mafias made sure that young capo Barack Obama, who had not patiently waited for his turn in the limelight, was surrounded by trusted hands.

One can imagine the deal imposed on Obama by Bill and Dick. The Bush mafia would keep the Pentagon for the time being; Hillary would run US foreign policy from the State Department; Don Bill’s under boss Leon Panetta would become Obama’s CIA director (2009 to 2011) and boss of the Pentagon (2011 to 2013).

Clinton’s trusted lead capo Rahm Emanuel became Obama’s under boss. Don Bill did not stay idle after the 2008 election; he became Obama’s lead consigliere, with the occasional help on geopolitical dossiers such as Ukraine from … Brzezinski, of course. The 88-year-old anti-Russian Democrat uber-consigliere’s latest contribution has been to bring back the Cold War into international affairs. Bill Clinton’s main task was to replenish the family coffers through the Clinton Global Initiative, a fund-raising operation disguised as being humanitarian. After the 2010 earthquake, Haiti became Don Bill’s pet project and personal fiefdom.

By now, our time-traveler hero realizes that the premise of the upcoming 2016 US presidential  election “fight” is already set. It will be a rematch of an old time classic:  Bush against Clinton, Dona Hillary versus Don Jeb. For good measure, and to give American consumers of elections a sense that their democracy is not an illusion, there will be unelectable challengers in the fake primaries. This will be strictly for entertainment purposes and to indulge the so-called American left. On a short list of likely seat warmers for Hillary are Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, perhaps even Joe Biden.

On the Bush side of the ring, the supposed primary challengers will be harder to find:  perhaps Mitt Romney again or phony Libertarian Rand Paul.

But let us listen to what consigliere extraordinaire Henry Kissinger recently said on the issue; after all, he has advised more US presidents than anyone else alive. In a September 6, 2014 interview with NPR‘s Scott Simon, when asked if Hillary Clinton would make a good president, Kissinger said: “I know Hillary as a person, and as a personal friend. I would say, yes she would be a good president. But that would put me under a great conflict of interest if she were a candidate, because I intend to support the Republicans…. Yes I would be comfortable with her as a president.” Our time traveler, de Tocqueville in training, is dazed, confused and disgusted by what the US has grown into:  the sort of charade that notions like democracy, the common good and morality have become in this display of vile and raw power for power’s sake.

Tough to see The Donald in this scenario is it not?

And, thus, it matters not what happens in the rest of the primaries?

If the recipe continues.

And the largely naive participants head for a back-room Convention closed-door decision event.

Feeling the Bern!
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Wondering seriously yet when the U.S. will be Greeced?

It's been happening for some time now.

Listen to this 10-minute video for your early future shock.

Download Interview with economist and analyst Paul Craig Roberts (English) 09-03-2016 (27.46 MB)
Duration: 30:00 m - Filetype: mp3 - Bitrate: 128 KBPS - Frequency: 44100 HZ

Interview with economist, analyst, author and former U.S. Undersecretary of the Treasury, Paul Craig Roberts, on U.S. militarism, the conflict in the Middle East and Ukraine, the U.S. elections, and Greece. In English. Aired March 3-9, 2016.


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