Dec 28, 2016

Crisis: Fake News (2), Drone War, National Security, US Arms Sales
Sections                                                                     crisis index

America Is Awash in Fake News
2. What Will Happen When Donald Trump Takes Over U.S.
     Drone & Targeted Assassination Program?

3. Jameel Jaffer on Obama's National Security Legacy &
     What Lies Ahead with Trump

4. Even as Global Trade Dropped, US Arms Sales Boomed
     in 2015

This is a Nederlog of Wednesday, December 28, 2016.

This is a crisis log with 4 items and 4 dotted links: Item 1 is in fact a partial repeat of an item of December 19 (but I think it is important and it is by Chris Hedges); item 2 and item 3 are both interviews on Democracy Now! with Jameel Jaffer, formerly of the ACLU; and item 4 is about the US arms sales: Obama sold more than twice as much (in money) as Bush Jr.

-- Constant part, for the moment --
B. In case you visit my Dutch site: It keeps being horrible most days and was so on most days in November 2016. But on 2.xii and 3.xii it was correct. Since then it mostly wasn't (until and including 27.xii).

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. [0]

In case you visit my Danish site: This was so-so till 18.xi
and was correct since then (most or all days), but not on 25.xii: Then it moved back to 2015 (!!).

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. America Is Awash in Fake News

The first item today is by Chris Hedges on AlterNet:

I must start this by saying that I know that I have already reviewed this article on December 19, 2016 (under a slightly different title).

It is here again because I found it today on AlterNet, and because in my opinion Chris Hedges' views of fake news and the American media are quite important, and should be better known than they are.

Also, I deleted most (not: all) of the items that I selected on December 19, and in fact only comment on four bits. And you can skip this item if you recall most of what I said about it on December 19 (for I will repeat some of it).

The first bit I quote this time is about American newspapers:

Most of the sections of a newspaper—“life style,” travel, real estate and fashion, among others—are designed to appeal to the “1 percent.” They are bait for advertising. Only about 15 percent of any newspaper is devoted to news. If you were to remove from that 15 percent the content provided by the public relations industry inside and outside government, news falls to single digits. For broadcast and cable news, the figure for real, independently reported news would hover close to zero.
In fact, this means that the very word "newspaper" has become quite misleading. (It's an adpaper normally, in fact.) And while this is about the USA, something similar happened elsewhere. For example, in Holland there still is the NRC-Handelsblad, which I read, mostly with satisfaction, from 1970-2010 (a mere 40 years), but that I kicked out by the end of 2010 because it had far too many amusements and pieces of stupid bullshit, and far too little real news (which they did have the previous 40 years in which I read it).

And for those who accept the axiom that "a democracy needs a free press" (and I do), most democracies are dead or dying, for the free press is dead, and has been replaced by amusing, flattering, bullshitting, dishonest propaganda sheets.

This is in fact the inference I draw:

While there are - for now - still non-mainstream media in the USA that try to bring the real news, by and large the free press has been killed, and it has been killed mostly by two forces: Lack of money through lack of advertisements (in the printed press), and by the personal choices of many editors and many journalists for money for themselves for spreading propaganda and lies much rather than for spreading the truth.

There is this on the propagandists and liars:

“The refinements of reason and shading of emotion cannot reach a considerable public,” Edward Bernays, the father of modern public relations, noted cynically.

Edward Bernays seems to have been a superman ("Übermensch" in German) in his own thoughts about a man with such (as he thought) excellent and rare gifts as himself, as you can see from his quote, and who also prided himself a great lot on his being a nephew of Freud the fraud, though indeed Bernays did not - not at all - say that Freud was a fraud. (I do, and I am a psychologist.) [1]

There is considerably more on this site about him, for my site has a copy of Bernays' "Propaganda", that is well worth reading (but that I so far failed to comment properly: I am sorry).

There is this on (American) TV:

The rapid-fire, abbreviated format of television precludes complexities and nuance. Television is about good and evil, black and white, hero and villain. It makes us confuse induced emotions with knowledge. It reinforces the mythic narrative of American virtue and goodness. It pays homage through carefully selected “experts” and “specialists” to the power elites and the reigning ideology. It shuts out, discredits or ridicules all who dissent.

I do not have a TV for 46 years now, namely since 1970. And I kicked it out then mostly because of two things: First, I knew by then that watching TV did not teach me anything I did not know (apart from the daily news, that then also was badly reported: the papers then were far better). And second, I was very conscious that very much of what I saw was propaganda of various kinds (also if it was not labeled "advertisement"), and I very much dislike being deceived and lied to.

Also, I do not miss a TV one bit and never did. And I have explained it several times in Nederlog. Here are four of these explanations, in case you care: November 9, 2007, July 5, 2008 (in Dutch), April 20, 2013, February 17, 2014 and February 7, 2015 (all in English).

And there is this on the internet:

A populace divorced from print and bombarded by discordant and random images is robbed of the vocabulary as well as the historical and cultural context to articulate reality.  Illusion is truth. A whirlwind of emotionally driven cant feeds our historical amnesia.

The internet has accelerated this process.
I think this coincides with the rise of "the a-social media" (that call themselves "social media"), and especially Facebook, that now seems to cater to 4 billion persons, most of whom are quite ignorant. [2]

For that is indeed completely new: Facebook gave the capacity to publish to everyone who is too stupid to even do html (that seems to be about 95 in a 100, just as less than 1 in a 100 program).

A related bit of utter idiocy is Twitter, on which you can send text to others - but never more than 140 characters a time, so that you will never be able to state a decent argument, state a doubt with evidence, or indeed treat anything that falls outside the scope of 140 characters (around 28 words).

Everybody has e-mail, but the groupminds of the stupid and the ignorant rather avoid using e-mail, for they can do their scolding, denigrations, assholery and sickness within 28 words at the time, and dislike having to read more.

And I am quite sorry, but I have been very conscious for over 50 years that my main enemies are stupidity and ignorance [3], and stupidity and ignorance now can scold (and threaten and demean) 4 billionfold, and seems to do so as well (but I am not on Facebook and avoid it like the very plague, even though I know not all users are ignorant, but I also do not want to be spied upon by anonymous commercial entities, which is how Facebook earns its billions: by spying on its users).

Finally, this is Chris Hedges' expectation about Trump's presidency:

Trump is adept at communicating through image, sound bites and spectacle. Fake news, which already dominates print and television reporting, will define the media under his administration. Those who call out the mendacity of fake news will be vilified and banished. The corporate state created this monstrous propaganda machine and bequeathed it to Trump. He will use it.

I think that is quite true.

2. What Will Happen When Donald Trump Takes Over U.S. Drone & Targeted Assassination Program?

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

This starts with the following introduction:

We turn now to look at what will happen when Donald Trump takes over Obama’s drone war program. We speak to Jameel Jaffer, founding director of the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University. His new book is titled "The Drone Memos: Targeted Killing, Secrecy, and the Law."

In fact Jameel Jaffer was the deputy legal director at the ACLU before he took his present function.

The first bit that I'll quote is about what Obama did for Trump (though it may be assumed he himself thought it would be for Clinton):

AMY GOODMAN: (..) So, what foundation has President Obama built that President Trump will inherit?

JAMEEL JAFFER: Yeah, well, when President Obama started escalating the use of armed drones in—early in his first term, you know, he had to build a legal and bureaucratic infrastructure for the use of targeted killing, for the practice of targeted killing. And that infrastructure now exists for the next president, for President Trump, to use. And the real concern is that the lines that the Obama administration drew are lines that can be swept aside by the next administration. These are rules that the Obama administration adopted for itself, and it fought very hard to keep the courts from enforcing those rules or even asking whether the rules were the right ones, whether they reflected international law or reflected constitutional law. And so, in some ways, the Obama administration, I think, was very successful in carving out this authority, this really unchecked authority to use lethal force against suspected enemies. And that power will now be available to President Trump.

Yes indeed - and I like to remark that (i) it seems quite true that "the Obama administration" adopted for itself a set of rules for Obama's targeted killings that "it fought very hard to keep the courts from enforcing those rules or even asking whether the rules were the right ones, whether they reflected international law or reflected constitutional law", which means (in my opinion, at least) that (ii) Obama tried to behave as a dictator - without any control by any court - in so far as his targeted killings by drones were concerned, and he succeeded in behaving like one. And indeed the freedoms that Obama succeeded in creating for his drone killings will now be available to Trump.

Here is some more on Obama's drone campaigns and killings:

JAMEEL JAFFER: And the administration, the Obama administration, fought very hard to keep some of that information secret. And ultimately—you know, in fact, at the beginning, the position that the Obama administration took was that even acknowledging the existence of the drone campaign, exists—acknowledging the CIA’s role in the drone campaign would cause harm to national security. That was a proposition that the courts ultimately rejected. And as a result, some of these memos were released.

So in fact Obama tried to kill the news that he was killing people with drones. (And that does not happen in a real democracy.)

There is also this on Trump:

JAMEEL JAFFER:  (..) Donald Trump ejected reporters from his campaign rallies because of his perceived—you know, his perceptions of their reporting. He ejected protesters from the rallies. You know, he has made the mainstream media into a kind of bogeyman. You know, I—and I see this sort of hostility towards whistleblowers in that—as part of that same pattern. You know, I think that’s all very worrying.

That is four "you know"s in four sentences (which I think is far too much: Jaffer sounds like a Dutchman [4]).

But Jaffer is quite right in suggesting that Trump does not like the press at all, and indeed neither the mainstream media nor the non-mainstream media, and that he does not like the media because these may criticize him.

And I agree this is very worrying, because as president he can try to introduce all kinds of new laws that will limit the freedom of the press, and he as announced repeatedly that he will do so.

If he succeeds, which he may very well do because the Republicans now have the majority everywhere, that will be the complete end of a free USA.

3. Jameel Jaffer on Obama's National Security Legacy & What Lies Ahead with Trump

The third item is also by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! and continues the previous item:

This has the following:

JAMEEL JAFFER:  Trump has said that he wants to expand surveillance of Muslim communities. He’s already made clear that he wants to—you already played a clip that reflects this—he wants to be more secretive about national security policy. I also worry about what he will do with respect to the encryption debate.

Yes indeed: These are three important themes, namely the surveillance of American Muslim communities; Trump's desire to have an even more secretive national security policy; and what Trump will do about encryption.

It seems to me Trump will probably succeed in all three ends: much more even more secret surveillance, an even more secretive "national security policy", and no more encryption whatsoever (in the USA): The state's spies have to read all of everyone - and Trump will probably succeed in this simply because the Republicans now have the majority everywhere.

In this context, there is also the following point:

JAMEEL JAFFER: Yeah, so this is one of the—one of the issues that I think the Trump administration will end up weighing in on very quickly, because this statute, which is the statute that was enacted by Congress in 2008 to ratify the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping program—this statute is set to expire in December of 2017. So, over the next 12 months, there will be this public debate and a congressional debate. And there are several cases, as well, in the courts challenging the constitu- tionality of this statute. But over the next 12 months, there will be this debate about whether that statute should be reauthorized. And, you know, this is an area where surveillance comes up very quickly against the First Amendment.

And the Fourth Amendment(<-Wikipedia) in fact. What do I expect? That there will be much more warrantless wiretapping, simply because the American governments since Bush Jr. have decided that they have the right to know everything about everyone living anywhere (while no one even has the right to know his or her privacy is getting raped by the government's very own secret state-terrorists) and also that these state terrorists have the right to know everything about anyone in the deepest secret. And I fear this will grow much worse under Trump.

Finally there is this bit, that shows you how much Obama improved on Bush Jr:

AMY GOODMAN: How did the Obama administration use state secrets to derail challenges to current policies, particularly around, for example, what your book is about, drones?

JAMEEL JAFFER: Yeah, so, in—with respect to targeted killing, surveillance, interrogation policy, rendition, the Bush administration had created, you know, a pattern of invoking state secrets to derail civil litigation, right? So when victims of these policies, or even people who just wanted to challenge the lawfulness of the policies, came to court, the answer that the Bush administration provided was these cases are too sensitive to be litigated. And the Obama administration took up those same arguments, made the same arguments in exactly the same way in the surveillance cases, in the drone cases.
In fact, Obama simply continued Bush Jr.'s utterly illegal procedures, for procedures that cannot even be tested (somehow) in court are quite illegal.

4. Even as Global Trade Dropped, US Arms Sales Boomed in 2015

The fourth and last item today is by Nadia Prupis on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

The U.S. sold more weapons than any other country in 2015 despite a drop in the global arms trade, according to a new congressional report.

At $40 billion, the U.S. signed more than half of all arms agreements last year, and more than double the next-highest seller, which was France at $15 billion. American weapons sales included bombs, missiles, armored tanks, Apache attack helicopters, F-15 fighter jets, and other items.

The report (pdf) was published by the Congressional Research Service, which conducts national policy analysis for Congress. It looked at conventional arms transfers to developing nations from 2008 to 2015.

Russia sold $11.1 billion, a slight drop from its 2014 count at $11.2 billion. China sold $6 billion, doubling its output from last year.

I say, for I did not know these numbers, that also seem rather low (!!) from my own point of view. In any case, here is another tribute to Obama:

2015 also marks the eighth year in a row that the U.S. has led the world in global arms deliveries, even as many other countries cut back on their arms spending over "domestic budget" concerns, as study author Catherine A. Theohary put it.

The Guardian noted on Tuesday that the findings comport with another recent study that found the Obama administration had approved more than $278 billion in eight years, more than double that of the Bush administration, which sold $128.6 billion.

Obama - who won the Nobel Peace Prize - sold more than twice as many weapons as Bush Jr.

[0] 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).

[1] I think that Freud is a fraud ever since 1966 (50 years ago), when I read a - more or less decent, and rather complete - introduction to psychiatry.

I still think so, and meanwhile I am a psychologist. One of the things I do not quite understand is that Freud's reputation is still rather high in many places, even though it is clear that he wrote mostly nonsense that these days is mostly not believed in anymore by the vast majority of psychologists and psychiatrists.

[2] I am sorry, but I am not ignorant. (I am an M.A. in psychology who graduated with an average of 9,3 out of 10 maximal, which is very rare; with a B.A. in philosophy with an average of an 8+, also very rare, and was denied the legal right of taking my M.A. in philosophy briefly before taking it because I had publicly spoken the truth about the completely incompetent parasites who pretended to teach me philosophy. Also, I was ill for all but three months of my studies, as indeed was my ex.)

[3] In fact, a good and memorable statement of my ethics is this: "Do not SIN; don't be MAD", in which "SIN" abbreviates "Stupidity, Ignorance, and Negligence", and "MAD" abbreviates "Meanness, Anger, and Dishonesty". (And this code dates back to 1983, which happens to be half of my life ago, in 2016.)

[4] I have lived in three countries in my life - Holland, England and Norway - and speak the language of each country very well, and besides also know German and French rather well and spent some holidays there. So when I say, as I do, that the Dutch are - on average - by far the worst speakers I know, I am not saying something that pleases me, while what I am saying should be taken more seriously than the opinions of persons who do not speak 7 languages and have not lived in three different countries.
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