Oct 18, 2016

Crisis: Trump, Mass Spying, Amy Goodman, Circuses, American Capitalism
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Donald Trump, the Worst of America
2. Court Rules UK Mass Spying Was Unlawfully Conducted
     for Nearly Two Decades

3. VIDEO: Amy Goodman Speaks After ND Judge    
     Dismisses "Riot" Charges for Covering Pipeline Protest

4. The Billionaire Oligarchs Don’t Give Out Bread
     Anymore, but They Gleefully Supply Circuses

5. Hillary Clinton, Paul Ryan, and the Crisis of American

This is a Nederlog of Tuesday, October 18, 2016.

A. This is a crisis log with 5 items and 5 dotted links: Item 1 is about an article in the New York Times, which is more or less OK, except that it is about 7 months late; item 2 is about a decision by an English court against some of the things the English secret services did, but I am very skeptical; item 3 is about Amy Goodman, whose "riot" charges were - completely correctly - dismissed by a judge; item 4 is about the lack of democracy that allows the few American rich to get most of the riches and change most of the laws to work for the rich; and item 5 is by Robert Reich who looks forward to what may be expected if Clinton becomes the next president: Not much good, were it only for party-political reasons.

-- Constant part, for the moment --

B. In case you visit my Dutch site: I do not know, but it may be you need to click/reload twice or more to see any changes I have made. This certainly held for me, but it is possible this was caused by the fact that I am also writing it from my computer.

In any case, I am now (again) updating the opening of my site with the last day it was updated. (And I am very sorry if you have to click/reload several times to see the last update: It is not what I wish, nor how it was. [1]

C. In case you visit my Danish site: It now works again (!), but I do not know how long it will keep working. The Dutch site still is a mess (it wasn't on Oct 15, but has not worked properly since).

I am very sorry, and none of it is due to me. I am simply doing the same things as I did for 20 or for 12 years, that also went well for 20 or for 12 years.

I will keep this introduction until I get three successive days (!!!) in which both providers work correctly. I have not seen that for many months now.


1. Donald Trump, the Worst of America

The first item today is by Charles M. Blow on The New York Times:
This starts as follows:

Donald Trump has virtually stopped trying to win this election by any conventional metric and is instead stacking logs of grievance on the funeral pyre with the great anticipation of setting it ablaze if current polls turn out to be predictive.

There is something calamitous in the air that surrounds the campaign, a hostile fatalism that bespeaks a man convinced that the end is near and aiming his anger at all within reach.

As his path to victory grows narrower, his desperation grows more pronounced.

Yes, indeed. And there are some - Bill Maher, for example - who seem to expect possibly a lot of violence if (as seems rather probable now) Trump looses the presidential elections.

Maher may well be right, and if he is it are mostly the media that are guilty, if only because I know now for more than 7 months (as a psychologist, I admit) that Trump is insane (mad, crazy), and indeed clinically insane, for he is suffering from grandiose narcissism (see the link: this is a psycho- pathology that is also very difficult to cure).

Here is some more on the women who have stepped forward to complain  about Trump's sexual assaults, that Trump says he is entitled to and can do because he "is famous" (is "a star"), and that he summed up (a week ago, and also see here) as follows:

DONALD TRUMP: Yeah, that’s her, with the gold. I’ve got to use some Tic Tacs just in case I start kissing her. You know, I’m automatically attracted to beautiful—I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. I just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.

BILLY BUSH: Whatever you want.

DONALD TRUMP: Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything.

Here are some of the women (14 at my last count, but probably more now) who had the guts to complain about being assaulted, with Trump's reaction:

Last week a steady stream of women stepped forward to accuse Trump of some form of sexual assault, abuse or inappropriate behavior. Trump’s response has been marked by a stunning lack of grace and dignity, let alone contrition or empathy, a response much like the man himself.

Instead, he is doubling down on sexism.

As I suggested, I think he does so because he is insane. Here is more on that (though I very much doubt Charles Blow is a psychologist):

His response to these charges has been surprisingly — and perhaps, revealingly — callow. He has mocked, whined, chided, bemoaned and belittled. It’s as if the man is on a mission to demonstrate to voters the staggering magnitude of his social vulgarity and emotional ineptitude. He has dispensed with all semblances of wanting to appear presidential and embraced what seems to be most natural to him: acting like a pig.

Alternatively - and far better, according to this psychologist: acting as if he is insane, which indeed he also is. Here is more evidence:

Furthermore, everything is rigged against him, from the media to the election itself. He’s threatening to sue The New York Times. He says he and Clinton should take a drug test before the next debate.

These are the ravings of a lunatic.

Quite so, and as I said, I am convinced for more than 7 months now that Trump is insane. Here is some more:

Trump now looks like a madman from Mad Men, a throwback to when his particular privileges had more perks and were considered less repugnant. He looks pathetic.

In fact, I don't think he looks "pathetic": He looks frightening. And here is the last bit I'll quote from this article:

But he’s not a kid; he’s a cad.

And he seems constitutionally incapable of processing the idea that wealth is not completely immunizing, that some rules are universally applicable, that common decency is required of more than just “common” folks. He seems genuinely offended that he should be held to the same standards of truth, decorum and even law as those less well off.

Trump is in fact the logical extension of toxic masculinity and ambient misogyny. He is the logical extension of rampant racism. He is the logical extension of wealth worship. He is the logical extension of pervasive anti-intellectualism.

Trump is the logical extension of the worst of America.

As to Trump's supposed "constitutional" incapacity: I agree it is "constitutional" but the reason is (for the most part) simply that he is not sane: That explains in good part why he "seems genuinely offended that he should be held to the same standards of truth, decorum and even law as those less well off".

As to Trump being "the logical extension of the worst of America": Yes and no, but mostly no, in my opinion.

First, I do not see the logic in Trump's supposedly being "the logical extension" of American attitudes towards "masculinity", "misogyny", "rampant racism", and "wealth worship" - and it so happens that I know a lot about logic.

What I agree with is that Trump very much played on these themes, and that he did find quite a lot of similarly inclined Americans - which I think is frightening, but is mostly not due to Trump, though he abuses the widespread stupidity and ignorance as well as he can.

And second: What prevented the The New York Times of writing a similar article as this one, but some 6 months earlier? For if he is "the logical extension of the worst of America", then he was so six months ago as well.

But OK - the article is very late, but it is recommended.

2. Court Rules UK Mass Spying Was Unlawfully Conducted for Nearly Two Decades

The second item is by Jon Queally on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:

In what rights campaigners heralded as a "significant" reproach to government overreach, a British court which oversees the nation's  intelligence and clandestine services ruled Monday that mass surveillance by agencies—including the bulk collection of private data from unwitting citizens and residents—was unlawfully conducted for nearly two decades.

Called the Investigatory Powers Tribunal, the panel of judges which provides legal oversight and hears challenges submitted against the country's Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), as well as the clandestine services known as M15 and M16, said the surveillance regime was "without adequate safeguards or supervision" during secret spying operations over the course of 17 years, from 1998 to 2015.
I say, which I do because I didn't know this and because I am - at the very least - rather amazed that the court concluded that "the surveillance regime was "without adequate safeguards or supervision" during secret spying operations over the course of 17 years, from 1998 to 2015:

What prevented all English courts of making similar inferences for 17 years?! For it is not that they were not asked by privacy groups.

Then this is quoted, from The Guardian:

The tribunal said the regime governing the collection of bulk communications data (BCD) – the who, where, when and what of personal phone and web communications – failed to comply with article 8 protecting the right to privacy of the European convention of human rights (ECHR) between 1998, when it started, and 4 November 2015, when it was made public.

It added that the retention of of bulk personal datasets (BPD) – which might include medical and tax records, individual biographical details, commercial and financial activities, communications and travel data – also failed to comply with article 8 for the decade it was in operation until it was public acknowledged in March 2015.

If the failure of article 8 of the European convention on human rights is the reason the court decided the case (and it seems it is), then if I were the GCHQ  (etc.) I would appeal, for the simple reason that the so-called "European convention on human rights" is not about human rights, but is about the freedoms and allowances all manner of spies should have to spy on any data produced by any inhabitant of Europe.

Proof: Here is first article 12 of the original 1948 Declaration of Human Rights:

Article 12.

  • No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.
And here is article 8 of the European convention on "human rights", that says spies have the rights to know everything and to glean it as they want:

Article 8 – Right to respect for private and family life

1. Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence.

2. There shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.

Note that European inhabitants are even denied the right that "No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation":

What they get is that they have the - completely useless - "
right to respect" for supposed rights, that they do not have in fact:

For clause 2 of article 8 says that none of the European inhabitants has any rights on any respect, let alone any right that says that "
No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation":

No, article 2 ordains that these rights are nought in case the secret services (or the police, or the military, or the government) maintain that
  • the interests of national security, OR
  • public safety, OR 
  • the economic well-being of the country, OR
  • the prevention of disorder, OR
  • crime, OR
  • for the protection of health, OR
  • of morals need protection, OR ELSE
  • the protection of the rights and freedoms of others
are involved: Then the secret services, the police, or the military can do as they please.

These are not "human rights". These are the rights of the secret services, the police and the military to break all human rights for any of the above - extremely vaguely formulated - reasons.

There is more on this in my Nederlog of September 20, and if I were the head of the GCHQ I would appeal, and quote any or all of the above eight reasons.

But Privacy International sees it differently (or so it seems):

Privacy International, a surveillance watchdog group which brought the challenge to the tribunal in the summer of 2015, called the tribunal's ruling "one of the most significant indictments of the secret use of the Government’s mass surveillance powers since Edward Snowden first began exposing the extent of US and UK spying in 2013."

Further explaining the implications of the ruling, Millie Graham Wood, a legal officer at Privacy International, added: "Today’s judgment is a long overdue indictment of UK surveillance agencies riding roughshod over our democracy and secretly spying on a massive scale. There are huge risks associated with the use of bulk communications data. It facilitates the almost instantaneous cataloguing of entire populations’ personal data. It is unacceptable that it is only through litigation by a charity that we have learnt the extent of these powers and how they are used. The public and Parliament deserve an explanation as to why everyone’s data was collected for over a decade without oversight in place and confirmation that unlawfully obtained personal data will be destroyed."

Yes, indeed - but one reason is the giving up of the real human rights safeguarded by the 1948 Declaration of Human Rights, and their replacements by the rights to spy on anyone for any reason that the secret services can list.

And indeed the article ends like this:

Though the ruling was welcomed as a rebuke to the spying regime, it was not a striking blow to all methods which groups like Privacy International find problematic.

"While the tribunal found that the mass collection of data lacked adequate oversight," reports The Intercept's Ryan Gallagher, "it did not rule that the surveillance itself was illegal. The judgment found in favor of the government on that front, stating that the use of the Telecommunications Act to harvest the bulk datasets was lawful."

Again I merely repeat what I said: One reason is the giving up of the real human rights safeguarded by the 1948 Declaration of Human Rights, and their replacements by the rights to spy on anyone for any reason that the secret services can list.

This article is recommended.

3. VIDEO: Amy Goodman Speaks After ND Judge Dismisses "Riot" Charges for Covering Pipeline Protest

The third item is by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now!:

This starts with the following introduction:

A North Dakota judge has dismissed the "riot" charges against Amy Goodman for covering the protests against the Dakota Access pipeline. Just after the decision was announced, Amy addressed supporters outside the Morton County Courthouse. Her attorneys, Tom Dickson and Reed Brody, spoke first.

I say. I did know Amy Goodman was arrested for this (some time ago), and I knew she was prosecuted, but I didn't know this yet.

Here is some that Amy Goodman said after the prosecution's case was dismissed:

AMY GOODMAN: It is a great honor to be here today. The judge’s decision to reject the State’s Attorney Ladd Erickson’s attempt to prosecute a journalist—in this case, me—is a great vindication of the First Amendment and of our right to report.

On September 3rd—on September 3rd, the Democracy Now! team came to North Dakota to the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, to the resistance camps, to cover this epic struggle, Native people on the front lines, particularly Native American women, on—on the front lines, who are taking on not only the Dakota Access pipeline, but a global issue of climate—climate justice, taking on the global issue of global warming. Democracy Now! has been covering climate justice issues for the full 20 years that we have been broadcasting. We go to every U.N. climate summit. So often, it’s indigenous people on the front lines. We covered the Keystone XL pipeline. Now we’re covering the Dakota Access pipeline.

And the important role of a journalist is to go to where the silence is.
Yes, indeed. Here is some more - and please note that one of the reasons Amy Goodman's case was dismissed is that she is Amy Goodman, i.e. a very well-known journalist:
We certainly will continue to cover this struggle. It’s not only to protect the water and land rights, but it’s your—but it’s covering your right to speak, to be heard.

We are not the only ones who have been charged. We faced misdemeanor. I faced misdemeanors. But I know there are a number of people who are going to court even as we speak here. Also important to point out other journalists who are being arrested.

The state’s—the state’s attorney was attempting to stop journalism. The state’s attorney must respect freedom of the press and the First Amendment.
And here is Amy Goodman on the freedom of the press:
Freedom of the press is about the public’s right to know. That right to know is sacred. That’s what makes a democracy meaningful, when you are able to make informed decisions. We’ve got to open up the media to everyone’s voice. I see the media as a huge kitchen table that stretches across the globe that we all sit around and debate and discuss the critical issues of the day.
I agree in principle, but I must add that (i) I think democracy is dead or dying in the USA (since 9/11, at least) while (ii) the mainstream media are closed "to everyone’s voice" (in case you don't have considerable riches, that is).

Neither is the fault of Amy Goodman, but I think both are - sad and dangerous - current facts.

4. The Billionaire Oligarchs Don’t Give Out Bread Anymore, but They Gleefully Supply Circuses

The fourth item is by Juan Cole on Truthdig, and originally on Informed Comment:

This starts as follows:

Rome was a republic until between 40 and 27 BCE, when the generals overthrew it.  Military dictator Gaius Octavius put the nail in the coffin when he made himself Augustus Caesar on the latter date. The later satirist Juvenal, to whom we owe the phrase ‘bread and circuses,’ is clear that it was the transition away from the republic that required the bribing of the plebeian class in this way.  He says it used to be they were bribed for their votes, but with the coming of dictatorship they had to be provided bread to keep them from rioting and cruel public spectacles to divert their attention from the reigning tyranny.

The US government offers a little bread in the form of welfare, but not much and much less than it used to.  Most working people haven’t recovered from 2008. Mostly nowadays we are being offered circuses by the billionaires who now rule us.

Yes. And Juvenal was mentioned earlier, also in Nederlog: see e.g. here.

Here is some more, that explains the parallel:

The pressing issues facing what’s left of the republic (I guess we are in year 41 — you have to count backward in this analogy) are these:

1.  Our tax code is allowing 3 million mega-rich to take home 20% of the country’s yearly income (since the 3 million include children, it is probably actually 1 million adults that get the one-fifth of everything Americans earn annually).  Tax policy could be used to redistribute that wealth over time, but it has been so blunted that it is useless.  So if we have a hundred people in a circle, and we distribute a thousand bananas in this unequal way, Person Number One, let us say, the Billionaire, will get 200 bananas out of the 1,000. That should leave 8 apiece for the other 99, but Person Number Two, the multimillionaire, gets another 100.  Some of the other 98 will only get 1 banana. A lot of the rest of the people will only get that black part at the bottom of the skin.
Yes, indeed - and "3 million" is slightly less than 1% of the American population. Here are some further explanations:
2.  Worse, a high degree of inequality ruins democracy.  We ordinary mortals who count our annual income in thousands of dollars can’t compete with people with billions of dollars to buy campaign ads and campaign workers etc.  Some crazy rich people have even proposed that they should have more than one vote, because they are “stakeholders” in America in a way the rest of us are not.

3.  Climate change via spewing carbon dioxide into the the atmosphere.

4.  A crisis of educational spending.

5.  A crisis of basic infrastructure.

But none of these subjects is being broached anymore, now that the crowd-sourced Bernie Sanders has been sidelined.  Hillary Clinton, worth a paltry few tens of millions, depends on a handful of billionaires for her campaign funding, and her policies are shaped by them (she waxed indignant at the very thought in the primaries, but who was she fooling?)

I agree. There is more in the article, which is recommended.

5. Hillary Clinton, Paul Ryan, and the Crisis of American Capitalism

The fifth and last item today is by Robert Reich on his site:

This starts as follows:

Hillary Clinton won’t be the only winner when Donald Trump and his fellow haters are defeated on Election Day (as looks increasingly likely). Another will be Paul Ryan, who will rule the Republican roost.

Democrats may take back the Senate but they won’t take back the House. Gerrymandering has given House Republicans an impregnable fortress of safe seats.

This means that in order for President Hillary Clinton to get anything done, she’ll have to make deals with Speaker Paul Ryan.

While the Clinton-Ryan years won’t be marked by the same kind of petulant gridlock we’ve witnessed over the last eight, the ascendance of Ryan and Clinton will mark a win for big business and Wall Street over the strongest anti-establishment surge America has witnessed since Great Depression.

Yes, indeed (supposing Clinton wins the elections) - and I refer especially to "a win for big business and Wall Street over the strongest anti-establishment surge America has witnessed since Great Depression", while I must guess that
the "
petulant gridlock" Reich refers to was in fact due to Obama's blackness.

Here are two things the Republicans may get:

But the price Ryan can be expected to exact will be lower corporate tax rates, along with a tax amnesty on corporate profits repatriated to the United States. And to offset the added spending and tax cuts, Ryan will probably want Clinton to trim Social Security (perhaps reviving the terrible idea of a “chained” CPI for determining cost of living increases), and slow the growth of Medicare.

None of this will do much to remedy the central economic challenge of our era – reversing the declining incomes and wealth of most Americans.

As to the second of the last two paragraphs:

Although incomes rose in 2015, the typical household is still worse off today than it was in 2000, adjusted for inflation. The assets of the typical family today are worth 14 percent less than the assets of the typical family in 1984. And the typical job is less secure than at any time since the Great Depression.

And these 14 percents went mostly to increase the enormous incomes of the rich and very rich 1%, and this is why:

Big money has corrupted our democracy, resulting in laws and rules that systematically favor big corporations, Wall Street, and the very rich over everyone else.

That is: The few rich get so much because they have changed most of the laws and the rules to "systematically favor big corporations, Wall Street, and the very rich", and they have done so with the help of most elected politicians, who are corrupt (i.e. are bought or can be bought).

This is also why it will be extremely difficult to change the situation, even to something like what existed between 1946 and 1980: The very few very rich have used a small part of their riches to corrupt most of the elected politicians.

One must hope for another major economical collapse to change the USA fundamentally from the current pro rich atmosphere, for most of the politicians who get elected are already corrupt.

[1] Alas, this is precisely as I said it does, and it goes on for months now. I do not know who does it, and I refuse to call the liars of "xs4all" (really: the KPN), simply because these have been lying to me from 2002-2009, and I do not trust anything they say I cannot control myself: They have treated me for seven years as a liar because "you complain about things other people do not complain about" (which is the perfect excuse never to do anything whatsoever for anyone).

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