Jan 25, 2017
Crisis: Trump's Capitalism, "Alternative Facts", Felony Charges, On Obama, Media Blackouts
Sections                                                                     crisis index

Get Ready for the First Shocks of Trump’s Disaster Capitalism
2. Outright Lies, Constant Tweets & "Alternative Facts": Inside
     Trump's Orwellian War with the Media

Four More Journalists Slapped With Felony Charges for
     Covering Inauguration Unrest

Obama Bequeaths a More Dangerous World
Trump Issues Media Blackout at Multiple Federal Agencies

This is a Nederlog of January 25, 2017. (It may be that there will be no Nederlog tomorrow, because I have troubles with my teeth again.)

Summary: This is a crisis log with 5 items and 5 dotted links: Item 1 is a non-good article by Naomi Klein on Trump; item 2 is a good interview by Amy Goodman about Trump's Orwellian war with the media; item 3 is a more or less correct article on the felony charges - up to 10 years imprisonment + $25,000 fine - slapped on journalists
who tried to report the facts; item 4 is about a good article by Robert Parry on Obama; and item 5 is by Lauren McCauley about Trump's media blackout of quite a few federal agencies (who may say things Trump doesn't want to see published).
As for today (January 25, 2017): I have meanwhile attached a message to the openings of both of my sites which points out that for somehing like a year now both of my sites more or less systematically, but unpredictably, show the wrong date and the wrong files, indeed going so far back as 2015, and as if I did not write anything since then.

Today the Danish site was (again) OK, but the Dutch site is again running behind the facts and does not properly update at all...

More about this later.
1. Get Ready for the First Shocks of Trump’s Disaster Capitalism

The first item today is by Naomi Klein (<-Wikipedia) on The Intercept:
This starts as follows:
We already know that the Trump administration plans to deregulate markets, wage all-out war on “radical Islamic terrorism,” trash climate science and unleash a fossil-fuel frenzy. It’s a vision that can be counted on to generate a tsunami of crises and shocks: economic shocks, as market bubbles burst; security shocks, as blowback from foreign belligerence comes home; weather shocks, as our climate is further destabilized; and industrial shocks, as oil pipelines spill and rigs collapse, which they tend to do, especially when enjoying light-touch regulation.
I say, which I do because this is not great prose even though I more or less agree with it.

Part of the reason may be that I do not like Naomi Klein, but I also think this is too complicated to explain, for it has to do with her and my communist background and with the fact that she appears to me as if she is a Dutch social democrat, which I know she isn't, but even so. [1]

So I leave it at this, and consider the rest of her article. It turned out that she writes about Trump by rehashing what happened around hurricane Katrina (<-Wikipedia), now twelve years ago.

This takes up a fair amount of space, and I do not think it tells me much about Trump or Pence (though yes, Pence was involved with Katrina).

I leave it all to your interests, and merely quote a kind of summary:
In the Katrina aftermath, the attacks on vulnerable people, carried out in the name of reconstruction and relief, did not stop there. In order to offset the tens of billions going to private companies in contracts and tax breaks, in November 2005 the Republican-controlled Congress announced that it needed to cut $40 billion from the federal budget. Among the programs that were slashed were student loans, Medicaid and food stamps. In other words, the poorest people in the United States subsidized the contractor bonanza twice: First, when Katrina relief morphed into unregulated corporate handouts, providing neither decent jobs nor functional public services; and, second, when the few programs that directly assist the unemployed and working poor nationwide were gutted to pay those bloated bills.
OK - that seems correct (but happened in 2005/2006). Here is Klein's ending:

This is the disaster capitalism blueprint, and it aligns with Trump’s own track record as a businessman all too well.

Trump and Pence come to power at a time when these kinds of disasters, like the lethal tornadoes that just struck the Southeastern United States, are coming fast and furious. Trump has already declared the U.S. a rolling disaster zone. And the shocks will keep getting bigger, thanks to the reckless policies that have already been promised.

What Katrina tells us is that this administration will attempt to exploit each disaster for maximum gain. We’d better get ready.

I say, once again, for this seems the best Naomi Klein can do on Trump: Hurricane "Katrina tells us". And I am sorry, but I am not impressed.

2. Outright Lies, Constant Tweets & "Alternative Facts": Inside Trump's Orwellian War with the Media

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

This starts with the following introduction:

We turn now to look at President Trump, the media and what the new administration calls "alternative facts." On Saturday, in his first full day in office, Trump visited CIA headquarters. Speaking in front of the CIA Memorial Wall, he told the agency he had a running war with the media. Hours later, Trump then ordered his new press secretary, Sean Spicer, to hold an emergency press briefing to claim, "This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period, both in person and around the globe." Then, on Sunday, Trump’s adviser, Kellyanne Conway, defended Spicer’s demonstrably false statement by saying he "gave alternative facts." We speak to filmmaker Brian Knappenberger, director of "Nobody Speak: Trials of the Free Press," and Mark Hertsgaard, investigative editor at The Nation magazine and author of seven books, including "On Bended Knee: The Press and the Reagan Presidency."

Incidentally, I usually reprint the introductions to Amy Goodman's interviews when reviewing them, because they tend to be accurate, as is this.

As to "alternative facts": "An alternative fact" = "a real political lie" or "a falsehood presented as true by an immoral or degenerate political liar who hopes to profit from plugging falsehoods as truths". [2]

This starts as follows:

AMY GOODMAN: We turn to look at President Trump, the media and what the new administration calls alternative facts. On Saturday, in his first full day in office, Trump visited CIA headquarters. Speaking of front of the CIA’s Memorial Wall, he told the agency he had a running war with the media.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: So I can only say that I am with you a thousand percent. And the reason you’re my first stop is that, as you know, I have a running war with the media. They are among the most dishonest human beings on Earth. And they sort of made it sound like I had a feud with the intelligence community. And I just want to let you know, the reason you’re number one stop is exactly the opposite. Exactly. And they understand that, too.

I say. And Trump may have been speaking the truth in a sense, for the mainstream
media lie a lot
(and keep out a lot more from being known), but then again, if Trump speaks the truth this is twisted to fit in with his ideology.

Here is Trump's press secretary, who lies, lies, and lies,, and seems to do so mostly because his lies are some of Trump's present "favorite fantasies" [3]:

PRESS SECRETARY SEAN SPICER: This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period, both in person and around the globe. Even The New York Times printed a photograph showing the—that—a misrepresentation of the crowd in the original tweet in their paper, which showed the full extent of the support, depth and crowd and intensity that existed. These attempts to lessen the enthusiasm of the inauguration are shameful and wrong. ... The president is committed to unifying our country, and that was the focus of his inaugural address. This kind of dishonesty in the media, the challenging—the bringing about our nation together is making it more difficult. There’s been a lot of talk in the media about the responsibility to hold Donald Trump accountable. And I’m here to tell you that it goes two ways. We’re going to hold the press accountable, as well.

Spicer lied about the inauguration, which was less well attended in person than Obama's inaugurations, and which also seems to have been less well attended world-wide, although I am not certain of the last supposed fact. (I didn't watch anything, but that's just me.)

Then again, Spicer probably spoke truly when he said that "[t]he president is committed to unifying our country", although he did not say how Trump is going to try to do that:

By shutting down the press, and especially the non-mainstream media, or forcing them to print only his propaganda, and by forbidding protesters to protest, namely by punishing protesters with up to 10 years jail and $25,000 fines, simply for protesting peacefully.

Both measures are very much anti-Constitutional.

And here is Trump's Orwellian speaker Conway (with a fitting last name: her way is to con people):

KELLYANNE CONWAY: Don’t be so overly dramatic about it, Chuck. What it—you’re saying it’s a falsehood. And they’re giving—Sean Spicer, our press secretary, gave alternative facts to that. But the point remains—

CHUCK TODD: Wait a minute. Alternative facts?

KELLYANNE CONWAY: —that there’s—

CHUCK TODD: Alternative facts? Four of the five facts he uttered—the one thing he got right—

KELLYANNE CONWAY: Hey, Chuck, why—hey, Chuck—

CHUCK TODD: —was Zeke Miller. Four of the five facts he uttered were just not true. Look, alternative facts are not facts. They’re falsehoods.

Yes indeed, although in this case they are not merely falsehoods (one may speak falsehoods sincerely, simply by not knowing they are falsehoods) but are lies.

Here is Knappenberger:

BRIAN KNAPPENBERGER: Right. It’s extraordinary. I mean, it’s extraordinary even listening to the clips you just played, I mean, and remembering we’re on day three here of this Trump administration. But really what we’re seeing is an extension of what we’ve been seeing—what we’ve seen from the last year from candidate Trump. I mean, his rise was really a result of an all-out assault on the press. I mean, it was one thing after another. He would berate the press. He called them names, "scum." He said he was going to open up libel laws and "sue you like you’ve never been sued before." He would go around the press. He would attack even things like satire, things like Saturday Night Live, or the cast of Hamilton or something. I mean, anything that threatened him or anything that approached an adversarial question at all, he would just go crazy with. So I think we’re in a period where this is something we really have to worry about. We just don’t know what this guy will be capable of doing with the executive branch at his control.

I think that is mostly correct, although Knappenberger misses that considerable parts of the mainstream media effectively supported Trump by giving him very much free attention and by never saying that 70% of his factual statements were lies.

But the rest is quite true, and the most frightening bit is this: "He said he was going to open up libel laws and "sue you like you’ve never been sued before."" And he seems to be trying to do so which, if he succeeds, means that the USA will be changed into a Trumpian dictatorship in which only the approved Trumpian propaganda is allowed to be printed or shown. (I said "if he succeeds": he did not, as yet.)

Here is finally Hertsgaard, who also makes a correct diagnosis, I think:

MARK HERTSGAARD: I think that what might be happening here, though, is that Donald Trump and his administration—Sean Spicer, the press secretary—may end up provoking the Washington press corps, and the mainstream media, in general, into becoming an adversarial press, which is not what they want to do, the media. It is what the Constitution and American civics calls on the media to do, to hold presidents and elected officials accountable by being adversarial, by asking tough questions. In general, that’s not the way the Washington press corps operates. And yet, I think when—they now have a choice. Trump is so aggressive against them, and Spicer, as well, that the Washington press corps is either going to respond back and be adversarial or they’re just going to take it.

Yes, and I think Hertsgaard is correct in three things: (1) the mainstream media (which is not the non-mainstream media) does not want to be or become "an adversarial press" [4], although (2) being adversarial - asking though questions - is the role given to the press by the Constitution's First Amendment, while also (3) now that even the mainstream media are taken down as "scum" and "liars" by Trump, they do have a real choice: Either speak the truth about Trump or shut up and obediently transmit his
propaganda to the public that Trump misleads.

We will find out what the outcome will be rather soon, I guess. And this is a recommended article.

3. Four More Journalists Slapped With Felony Charges for Covering Inauguration Unrest

The third item is by Jon Swaine on AlterNet and originally on The Guardian:
This starts as follows (and this is very worrying):

Four more journalists have been charged with felonies after being arrested while covering the unrest around Donald Trump’s inauguration, meaning that at least six media workers are facing up to 10 years in prison and a $25,000 fine if convicted.

A documentary producer, a photojournalist, a live-streamer and a freelance reporter were each charged with the most serious level of offense under Washington DC’s law against rioting, after being caught up in the police action against demonstrators.

This is very worrying because Donald Trump clearly wants to shut up the free press and the free media: They should either publish nothing or only what the Trumpian government approves.

And if the press does not submit then - even before any new laws have been introduced - they are prosecuted as criminals with punishments of up to 10 years in prison (in Holland you might get that punishment for committing a murder) and a $25,000 fine.

Note that I am talking about accredited journalists here:

Jack Keller, a producer for the web documentary series Story of America, said that he was detained for about 36 hours after being kettled by police at 12th and L streets on Friday morning and then arrested despite telling officers that he was covering the demonstrations as a journalist.

“The way we were treated was an absolute travesty,” said Keller, whose cellphone has been kept by the authorities. Keller’s editor, Annabel Park, said: “It is a maddening and frustrating situation. These are people who were there observing and documenting.”

Yes indeed. And they should be abled to do so, without being arrested or prosecuted, let alone with 10 years imprisonment for being a journalist and behaving as a journalist.

Here are some lawyers:

The National Lawyers’ Guild accused Washington DC’s metropolitan police department of having “indiscriminately targeted people for arrest en masse based on location alone” and said they unlawfully used teargas and other weapons.

“These illegal acts are clearly designed to chill the speech of protesters engaging in First Amendment activity,” Maggie Ellinger-Locke, of the guild’s DC branch, said in a statement.

Yes indeed. There is also this from the side of the police:

Reports on the arrests of five of the six journalists contain identical language alleging that “numerous crimes were occurring in police presence”. They state that windows were broken, fires were lit and vehicles were damaged. “The crowd was observed enticing a riot by organizing, promoting, encouraging and participating in acts of violence in furtherance of the riot,” the police reports said.

First, I much doubt whether this is true. And second, even if it is true about "the crowd", the only way to have objective evidence about "the crowd" is letting journalists collect it, instead of arresting them and prosecuting them as if they committed a crime that's worth a murder sentence (in Holland, in some cases).

4. Obama Bequeaths a More Dangerous World

The fourth item is by Robert Parry on Consortiumnews:
This has a subtitle that is adequate:

Special Report: President Obama may have entered the White House with a desire to rein in America’s global war-making but he succumbed to neocon pressure and left behind an even more dangerous world, reports Robert Parry.

This starts as follows:
Any fair judgment about Barack Obama’s presidency must start with the recognition that he inherited a dismal situation from George W. Bush: the U.S. economy was in free-fall and U.S. troops were bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan. Clearly, these intertwined economic and foreign policy crises colored how Obama viewed his options, realizing that one false step could tip the world into the abyss.

It’s also true that his Republican rivals behaved as if they had no responsibility for the messes that Obama had to clean up. From the start, they set out to trip him up rather than lend a hand.
Yes, I agree with this. Next, there is also this:
That said, however, it is also true that Obama – an inexperienced manager – made huge mistakes from the outset and failed to rectify them in a timely fashion.
Hm. I think it is true that Obama was an inexperienced manager, but I don't think this was his only or his major weakness. There is more below on this.

First a bit about Hillary Clinton as Obama's secretary of state:
In 2011, Obama also gave in to pressure from Clinton and one of his key advisers, “humanitarian” warmonger Samantha Power, to support another “regime change” in Libya. That U.S.-facilitated air war devastated the Libyan military and ended with Islamic militants sodomizing Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi with a knife and then murdering him, a grisly outcome that Clinton celebrated with a chirpy rephrase of Julius Caesar’s famous boast about a conquest, as she said: “We came, we saw, he died.”
Yes, and presented like that it seems as if Hillary Clinton is a sadist. I do not know whether she is, but she sounds like one in this excerpt (where she was also stealing from Caesar, who didn't say quite this).

Here is more about Obama:
Even after Clinton, Gates and Petraeus were gone by the start of Obama’s second term, he continued to acquiesce to most of the demands of the neocons and liberal interventionists. Rather than act as a decisive U.S. president, Obama often behaved more like the sullen teen-ager complaining from the backseat about not wanting to go on a family trip. Obama grumbled about some of the neocon/liberal-hawk policies but he mostly went along, albeit half-heartedly at times.
This is one way of reading the evidence. Another way seems more consistent to me:

Obama specialized in saying one thing, for his voters, and did that very well and with a lot of charm, while very often doing the opposite in the laws and regulations he signed or created. For more, again see below.

Here is some more on that:

Instead of getting tough with Israel over its continued abuse of the Palestinians, Obama gave Netanyahu’s regime the most sophisticated weapons from the U.S. arsenal. Instead of calling out the Saudis as the principal state sponsor of terrorism – for their support for Al Qaeda and the Islamic State – Obama continued the fiction that Iran was the lead villain on terrorism and cooperated when the Saudis launched a brutal air war against their impoverished neighbors in Yemen.

Obama personally acknowledged authorizing military strikes in seven countries, mostly through his aggressive use of drones, an approach toward push-button warfare that has spread animosity against the United States to the seven corners of the earth.

Yes. And I note that none of the above was necessary, for a Democratic president.
However, perhaps Obama’s most dangerous legacy is the New Cold War with Russia (...)

After his relationship with Putin had deteriorated over the ensuring two-plus years, Obama chose to escalate the New Cold War in his final weeks in  office by having U.S. intelligence agencies leak unsubstantiated claims that Putin interfered in the U.S. presidential election by hacking and publicizing Democratic emails that helped Trump and hurt Hillary Clinton.
Yes indeed, and Parry seems to me to be quite right when he says that the "U.S. intelligence agencies leak unsubstantiated claims that Putin interfered in the U.S. presidential election by hacking and publicizing Democratic emails": See here.

We now return to the question what Obama really is, underneath his charming person and usually well-composed words:
Yet, one of the mysteries of Obama is whether he was always a closet hawk who just let his true colors show over the course of his eight years in office or whether he was a weak executive who desperately wanted to belong to the Washington establishment and underwent a gradual submission to achieve that acceptance.
I think myself that Obama was both "a weak executive who desperately wanted to belong to the Washington establishment" and one who started out as a Senator without real principles or many ideas other than that he wanted to make it, which he did.

He was in fact quite like Bill Clinton (also charming, also clever, and now very rich, after having given the bankers all they wanted) and he probably also will be rewarded rather like Bill Clinton was (except less, for Obama is half black and I am a realist).

This is from Parry's ending:

So, Obama’s subservience to the neocons and liberal hawks may have begun as a case of an inexperienced president getting outmaneuvered by rivals whom he had foolishly empowered. But Obama’s descent into a full-scale New Cold Warrior by the end of his second term suggests that he was no longer an overpowered naf but someone who had become a committed convert.

I don't think Obama started merely as "an inexperienced president": I think he started as the black counterpart of Bill Clinton, and with similar principles: He wanted to get rich and famous. (And he now is famous, and merely needs to get paid by the extremely rich bankers for rewarding them a lot.)

This also means that I do not know whether Obama ended up as "
a committed convert", although he did what the rich and the military wanted him to do.

But by and large this is a recommended article.

Trump Issues Media Blackout at Multiple Federal Agencies

The fifth
and last item today item is by Lauren McCauley on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

Though the majority of President Donald Trump's controversial cabinet nominations have not yet been confirmed, his so-called "beachhead" teams have arrived at their respective agencies, carrying out orders that make clear that the "War on Science" has begun.

On Tuesday, BuzzFeed broke the news that scientists at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) are no longer allowed to share information about taxpayer-funded research with the public.

In an email sent Monday and obtained by the news outlet, Sharon Drumm, chief of staff for the USDA's primary in-house research arm, the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), told the department: "Starting immediately and until further notice, ARS will not release any public-facing documents...This includes, but is not limited to, news releases, photos, fact sheets, news feeds, and social media content."

I say. I grant that Trump is anti-science and is president and also that the U.S. Department of Agriculture is part of the government, but I can't see why the president would have the power to legally deny them even publishing "social media content". Also, I think myself that "taxpayer-funded research" should be open to "the public": They fund it, to start with, and should be abled to know what they funded.

Then again, Trump is a neofascist who doesn't like science or truth, and he has been given enormous powers, and is using them according to his ideology.

There is this by Rosenberg on Trump's anti-scientism:

In a press statement, Andrew Rosenberg, director of the Center for Science and Democracy at UCS, condemned the moves, describing the as "equally short-sighted and destructive."

"These actions don't just threaten scientists—they threaten everyone in the country who breathes air, drinks water, and eats food," said Rosenberg. "These agency scientists carry out research in support of policies that protect our health and safety and help farmers, and it makes no sense to put up walls between them and the public, or unilaterally halt the work they do."

"That the administration has moved so quickly to clamp down on scientists shows that the Trump administration is more focused on lifting rules on polluters than keeping our air and water clean," he added.

Yes indeed. Here is Trump's extension of his plans against the U.S. Department of Agriculture:

It has become apparent that the Trump administration has also ordered a media blackout at the EPA, as well as at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

No more science. No more truth. No more honesty. No real facts. Trump wants his government to publish only his ideology, his lies and his fantasies, and he also wants to prosecute anyone - private persons, media, scientists - who publicly disagrees with him. [5]

Or at least, that seems to be his program in my eyes.

Finally, here is some news about American scientists:

The clampdown comes amid growing concern that Trump and his appointees will suppress scientific innovation and research to advance their own ideological agenda.

More than 5,500 scientists have signed on to an open letter, sent to Trump in the days following his election, warning against the dangers of allowing "political or corporate influence" to override scientific fact.

I agree with them, but I also think - after a full forty years of struggling against the very popular "Everybody knows that truth does not exist", that was first let loose in the University of Amsterdam in 1978 - that only very few academically employed scientists, when faced with the choice between science and truth and loosing their salary, will choose for science and truth.

And while I am very sorry, I have seen forty years of that, in Holland, is also true, but this seems to be rather universal: Most people care most for themselves and their own incomes, and are quite willing to lie if this saves or increases their incomes.

It's the same for most academics.

[1] Perhaps I should add that I thoroughly despise the Dutch "social democrats", who also are none of the kind: They are postmodern third-wayers ever since 1995 or long before. (Incidentally, the Third Way article in Wikipedia, that was good, now seems to have been mostly destroyed by Thirdwayers.)

Also, their leaders - Cohen and Asscher - come from the two Dutch Jewish very rich terrorists who helped to murder more than 100.000 Dutch Jews between 1941 and 1945, and who did not even have to face any judge, while they were paid by the SS with keeping their lives and their wealth.

They bear the same family names as David Cohen and Abraham Asscher, and Lodewijk Asscher is the - very rich, supposedly "social democratic" - present leader of the "social democrats" and a great-grandson of Abraham Asscher.

I have asked Job Cohen repeatedly - see ME in Amsterdam - about his relation to David Cohen, but Cohen simply never answered me about anything. His nephew (according to Dutch papers) Rob Oudkerk is a grandson of David Cohen (and insisted his grandfather never did anything wrong in WW II).

Incidentally: My father and grandfather were arrested in 1941 for resisting the Nazis; were convicted by collaborating Dutch judges to concentration camp imprisonment as "political terrorists", where my grandfather was murdered. My father survived 3 years,
9 months and 15 days of 4 concentration camps, and was even - extremely rare for
a communist - knighted briefly before he died.

I am quite willing to explain in court what I have against Cohens and Asschers as leaders or prominent politicians in the "social democratic" party: They owe me a great
lot (and Job Cohen was mayor of Amsterdam and never answered any of my mails, while Lodewijk Asscher was alderman of Amsterdam and also never answered any of my mails - that complained about being threatened with murder by two of mayor Van Thijn's illegal drugsdealing friends, who also were arrested with 2 kiloos of heroin and 1 kilo of cocaine, but against whom I was not allowed to deposit any complaint with the Amsterdam police by the Amsterdam police, that obviously protected the illegal drugsdealers much rather than me or my legal rights).

This is the real meaning of the Orwellian phrase "alternative facts": They are not facts, they are definite conscious lies.

Also, once the papers stopped saying that presidents or prominent politicians lie or may lie, they started to propagandize for the liars they chose not to call liars while they clearly were lying. 

And this has been happening for many years now.

There are some who say that
Trump's present favorite fantasies are not lies, presumably because one may believe something and repeat it, while not knowing that what one believes is false.

Well... if you believe that about Donald Trump then either you are a Trumpian or you are very dense: All politicians lie, and Trump lied more than any living Western politician I know of.

As to the phrase
"an adversarial press": In fact, a real press (of any political color, provided it is honest) does far more than "asking tough questions" (which is how
"an adversarial press" gets identified here):

It articulates all manner of ideas about politics, provided only that either the ideas are (at least) somewhat popular or the ideas may be important while they have some positive evidence and have not been falsified.

And without a press which does all of that, also with considerable political divergence in allowing for honest conservatives, honest democrats, honest leftists and honest rightists, democracy will soon be dead, for no one will have sufficient true information to rationally decide what is and is not true.

[5] I bolded this simply because I think it is true and important.

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