1. The Deep State vs.
2. “Facts Are in the Eye of the Beholder,”
Says Roger Stone,
3. Debate: Are Trump’s Ties to Russia a
Dangerous Security Issue
or Critics’ Fodder for New Red
4. How 90% of American
Households Lost an Average of $17,000
in Wealth to the Plutocrats in
This is a Nederlog of Tuesday, March 7, 2017.
Summary: This is an
crisis log. There
are 4 items with 4 dotted links: Item 1 is about an article by someone who strongly recommends Mike Lofgren's book; item 2 is about Roger Stone who said "facts are in the eye of the beholder": No, they are not; item 3
is about Russian hacking and (once again) correctly concludes there is
no evidence of Russian hacking of the presidential elections; and item 4 is about a fine article on the rich vs the poor: The few rich are getting a whole lot richer every year, while the poor are getting a whole lot poorer every year, and this has been so ever since Reagan.
March 7: As to the
The Danish site is OK once again (it immediately - within 2 minutes -
shows today's NL after uploading); the Dutch site was OK yesterday, but
now seems to be updating my site (that is updated every day) every
fifth day, that is, a mere 7200 times slower than the other site,
which is now as it was from 2004 till 2015).
Where xs4all.nl stuck for others I have NO idea: It may
2015. (They do want immediate
payment if you are a
week behind. They have been destroying
my site now for over
a year. And I completely distrust them, but also do not
know whether they are doing it or someone secret service is.)
Deep State vs. President Trump
The first item today is by Gary Olson on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:
Corporate media like CNN, MSNBC, The New York Times,
The Washington Post, and elements within the
intelligence community are singing from the same hymnal in denouncing
and demonizing President Trump and are not at all subtle in suggesting
that only impeachment can "save democracy." Democratic Party
leaders hope to parley this into retaking the White House.
be sure, Trump is a neo-fascist demagogue and his actions should be
resisted at every step. However, this is not what's motivating most of
these critics. To understand why that's the case, I highly recommend
Mike Lofgren's book, THE DEEP STATE: The Fall of the Constitution
and the Rise of a Shadow Government (NY: Penguin, 2016). Lofgren
began his Capital Hill career as a traditional Republican, serving
three decades as a high level staff analyst for the House and Senate
Budget Committees. He wrote the book after become totally
disillusioned. His analysis and revelations are those of a consummate
insider and, were I teaching an introductory course in American
Politics, this book would be my primary text.
I say. Well... here is some background on the Deep State.
First, here are two articles I wrote in the beginning of 2016 on Mike Lofgren: Here and here. Especially the second is rather important, at least for my thinking about the crisis.
Second, here are three far more recent articles I wrote on the Deep State: Here, here and here. Especially the second of these is rather important if you want to know more about the Deep State.
Here is a characterization of the Deep State in Olson's words:
is the Deep State? It's a hybrid network of structures within which
actual power resides. It includes the military-industrial complex, Wall
Street, hordes of private contractors whose sole client is the
government, national security agencies, select (not all) members of the
State, Defense, CIA, Homeland Security, a few key members of the
Congressional Defense and Intelligence Committees, and so on.
Except for a handful of Congresspersons, Deep State members have not
been elected and are accountable to no one. They profoundly influence
virtually every domestic and foreign matter of consequence.
I think this is more or less correct, but should like to stress one of my conclusions in this item that reduces some of the unclarities about the Deep State. I think the following assumptions are sufficient to account for the hypothesis that there is something like a Deep State in the USA, and indeed elsewhere:
I make do with the following assumptions:
(i) authorities very often lie or deceive and
(ii) the mainstream media often service the authorities, while
(iii) narratives from the government, from
corporations, and from mainstream media are suspect because they have a
whole lot of money, a whole lot of power, and are partial to furthering
their own money and power, and
there is - more probably than not - a deep state or shadow government
behind the official state, that tends to make some major decisions that
are not really made by the official state.
So the Deep State is a hypothesis, but it is neither a strange nor a wild hypothesis, and I think its existence is considerably more probable - in some form, and I think of: Wall Street, National Security Agencies, the Pentagon, and the CIA, especially - than its denial.
Then again, it is a - reasonably well-founded - hypothesis, that amounts to no more than this: There are
some unelected people who have a great amount of power, and who make
some of the decisions that are ascribed to the elected government. (And
one clear example would be the NSA.)
Here is some more on the Deep State:
D.J. Hopkins, another close student of this phenomenon,
notes that "the system served by the Deep State is not the United
States of America, i.e., the country most Americans believe they live
in; the system it serves is globalized Capitalism." And they do so
regardless of which party is nominally in control. Lofgren takes pains
to point out that the Deep State is not a coven of diabolical
conspirators. It has evolved over several decades to become the
antithesis of democracy.
Possibly so, but this involves a further hypothesis, that I would replace by my hypothesis that there is a strong force (carried by quite a few of the very rich) and a strong ideology that is best described as neofascism, and that has as its main aims the furthering of the profits of multi-national corporations and the powers of multi-national corporations combined with rightism in politics.
I think this is clearly there in some form (read my definition!) and it seems a better hypothesis to me than that "the system [the Deep State] serves is globalized Capitalism": Yes, but mostly through the intermediating rightist political ideology I call neofascism.
Here is the last bit that I'll quote from this articleL
Finally, years ago, the bracing social critic and stand-up
comedian George Carlin presciently described what's come to pass as we
face the equally dangerous Deep State and Donald Trump. Carlin said,
"It's a big club and you and I ain't in it. What do they want? More for
themselves and less for everybody else. And they don't give a f---
about about you." Carlin believed that an aroused and politically savvy
citizenry could ultimately prevail.
Carlin was right, but this requires a popular movement
that offers answers to the failed policies of the Democrats and
Republicans. It's not impossible, but we should harbor no
illusions about what we're up against.
I like George Carlin a lot, and I like the quotation (and he really said that the very rich don't give a fuck about anyone who is not very rich: He or she is just not fully human in their views, it seems, for that requires large riches, or so it seems).
And I also agree with the general conclusion: It will be very difficult to defeat a monster that is financed by the very rich, had nearly forty years of continuous development, is supported by the mainstream media, has corrupted most members of the Senate and the House, steals money from the 90% for nearly forty years now (see item 4), and is hidden behind vast schemes of intentional political, moral and scientific lies. (Though the economy on which it is all built is shaky and may collapse.)
This is a recommended article.
“Facts Are in the Eye of the Beholder,” Says Roger Stone, Trump
This starts as follows:
The second item today is by Mattathias Schwartz on The Intercept:
The history of the 2016 election is up for grabs. Vying for
posterity are two competing myths. One is the Russian conspiracy that
elevated Donald Trump into the White House. The other is the “deep
state” conspiracy that is laboring to bring him down. The first relies
on secret evidence; the second on naked speculation and paranoid hand
waving. Each myth has a few bits of fact dangling behind it; both are
currently impossible to verify or refute.
Hm. I don't quite agree.
First of all, nearly everything most rational and scientifically informed persons believe is "impossible to verify or refute", from quantum-mechanics and evolution, through to psychiatrists' attributions of madness to diverse groups of people.
Second, the rational probabilities involved in science and philosophy of science will differ a great lot, as will the rational foundations on which the diverse sciences are built, but we must do with assumptions and hypotheses anyway.
Third, the hugely complicating feature of all politics, all politicians, all governors and anybody interested in politics is that all human beings may lie, and indeed probably will lie as soon as their own incomes or riches are concerned.
Fourth, while there are two classes of hypotheses about the 2016
elections - the Russians crowned Trump, and the Deep State tries to
bring Trump down - I do like to point out that the existence of the Deep State goes back to 1961 and president Eisenhower's warnings about the military-industrial complex, and that it has a lot of diverse and indirect evidence for it (that there is something like a shadow government behind or below the elected government), while the Russian hypothesis dates back to November of 2016, and has consistently not found any rationally credible evidence.
So in all, I agree that there are two classes of hypotheses, but I also think that the hypothesis of some kind of Deep State is far better supported than the hypothesis that
the Russians illegally elected Trump by falsifying the votes (for which there has been produced no real evidence whatsoever since November of 2016).
Next, this article is a report on a rather long interview Schwartz had
with Stone and it also gives background on Stone. This is from the
background information on Roger Stone (<-Wikipedia) and is the only bit I quote from that part:
“Truth is not enough,” Stone writes. “It’d be nice if it were, but
that’s not the world in which we live. People are busy and have a lot of
distractions … attaching truth to something else, especially humor or
shock, makes it stick.”
Truth, in other words, doesn’t stand a chance in a click-hungry traffic-driven media environment.
Stone and I spoke by phone twice, on February 26 and March 2. This
interview is compiled from both conversations. It has been edited and
condensed for clarity.
Hm, yes and no again: I agree more or less that - in the worlds composed by Facebook and the mainstream media, at least - "truth is not enough" and I also agree with Schwartz that "we" - the internet-connected, cell-phone using, mostly Western - people "we" call "we" live in a world that is mostly "a click-hungry traffic-driven media environment".
But then that environment is a great part of the problem, and it exists because "the media" have been rather totally reorganized by computers and computing:
Now the nearly 2 billion members of Facebook can relentlessly be searched for everything they know, they believe and they value (in secret) and be offered advertisements
that rhyme with their supposed knowledge, beliefs and values, just as
the around 4 billion persons with internet connections can all be completely plundered of every information by the secret services (in secret), while the whole commercial world is oriented around clicks for products by mostly utterly blind and almost completely ignorant anonymous persons (for everyone but their secret investigators for commerce and for spying) that are of interest to the commercial spies only because of the money this makes for the rich and their corporations.
This is completely different from how
things - society, information, people, privacies, rights, freedoms -
were organized before computing. Two of the major differences are that literally billions of people have been added to "the information services" of the major corporations, in factually full detail because they can be scanned in secret, and that all the billions with an internet computer or cellphone are in secret investigated by very many secret services to check whether they are politically correct according to the norms of the secret services.
These are very big changes, and I will not
further comment on them here and now, and only select three bits from a
far longer interview. Here is the first bit, on Roger Stone's factual position:
What is your current role in the Trump administration?
First and foremost, I am a Trump supporter. I am a Trump friend. I’m a
writer, and I express myself best in a memo. I understand how to write a
short, pithy, and topical memo. I prefer to share my advice that way. I
have no official role whatsoever, other than Trump supporter and
friend. And of course, I have to politically kibitz from time to time.
I observe that - also - Roger Stone is 64 and a dandy. Then there is this about evidence that the FBI does or does not have (!) about contacts between the Russian government and Trump's campaign:
On this Stone is correct. Here is the last bit that I"ll quote and review:
So all these members of the Senate Intelligence Committee who say
that the FBI does have evidence of contact between the Russian
government and the Trump campaign — is that all made up?
Let’s see it. Yes. I’m calling them out. I say, it’s not true. Let’s
see the proof. Again, they may have been told that by some of the
intelligence agencies but where’s the beef? Where’s the proof? Again,
the New York Times specifically says, emails, records of financial
transactions, and transcripts of phone calls. Produce them! Where are
they! Let’s settle this once and for all.
No, facts are not "in the eye of the beholder": Where is that eye? Where is that beholder? Are these also "relative"? As is one's knowledge of English? I certainly know more about epistemology than Roger Stone, and I say there are two kinds of things referred to as facts: (i) real facts, and (ii) actual theories, ideologies or philosophies.
In the book, you say that the truth gets lost with the car keys
sometimes, that it doesn’t quite stick on its own. What is truth to you,
given all this evidence flying back and forth and people’s beliefs
being so malleable? How do you think of the truth?
How many angels can dance on the head of a pin? It’s a question that
can’t be answered. Facts are, obviously, in the eye of the beholder. You
have an obligation to make a compelling case. Caveat emptor. Let the
consumer decide what he or she believes or doesn’t believe based on how
compelling a case you put forward for your point of view.
That sounds like a relativist position.
But that’s what campaigns are about. Obama claims that he created jobs. His opponents claim that he didn’t.
The former kind are real facts, such as that the melting
temperature of this bit of copper is such-and-such; that one counted 5
male and 2 female spiders in the sample one took; or that such and such
scored 141 as an IQ on a test.
All of these are particulars, and in good conditions all of these can be ascertained as truths. But they do not prove the validity of any theory of any kind that is about them, for theories are not facts: They are imaginations that are more or less well-supported (from no support at all through varied, much tested, and strong support) by the available and known facts, and may be made more or less probable by discovering further relevant facts.
Second, as to "consumers". The vast majority of those who judge the assertions of scientists are not scientists themselves. Of the minority of scientists, the vast majority of scientists did not specialize on the sciences they may (and often are) judging.
To say or imply that two billion people with an average IQ of 100 and not even a remote idea of what science and scientists are like, can decide, in a rational fashion, "what he or she believes or doesn't believe" is just the same amount of bullshit as insisting that these billions all know intuitively and well the full meaning of
(the Euler-Lagrange equation), for they do not.
Besides, this shows something else: The real problem is not whether any arbitrary individual may sensibly arrive at a decision about "what he or she believes or doesn't believe".
The real problem is that real and rational decisions about nearly every question (i) are social and not merely individual, and (ii) are and should be based on provable competence in answering these kinds of questions. (And most men just do not have much or any competence in deciding what to believe about physics, chemistry or mathematics, for a few examples).
So Stone is quite mistaken (if honest): There are real facts, and they are not theoretical; nearly everything human beings believe in are theories of some kind;
theories may be supported or infirmed by factual evidence; to give rational judgements on theories requires rational competence in judging those kinds of theories; the great majority of human beings simply lack the rational competence to rationally judge any kind of science: they lack most or all knowledge of science; and everybody lacks the rational competence to judge most kinds of science (which is again why good judgements need to be social affairs and not individual affairs).
3. Debate: Are Trump’s Ties to Russia a Dangerous
Security Issue or Critics’ Fodder for New Red Scare?
The third item is by Amy Goodman and Juan González on Democracy Now!:
This starts with the following introduction:
The ongoing mystery of Russia’s role in the 2016 U.S. election took an
unexpected turn early Saturday morning when President Trump took to
Twitter, writing: "Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my 'wires
tapped' in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is
McCarthyism!" Trump offered no evidence, but within 24 hours he called
on lawmakers to probe Obama’s actions. The New York Times is reporting
F.B.I. director James B. Comey has asked the Justice Department to
publicly reject Trump’s assertion that Obama ordered the tapping of
Trump’s phones. The Times described Comey’s request as a “remarkable
rebuke of a sitting president.” For more we host a debate between
attorney Scott Horton, lecturer at Columbia Law School and a
contributing editor at Harper’s Magazine, and Robert Parry, veteran
investigative journalist and editor of the website Consortiumnews.com.
And this simply is a good idea. Here is some background:
The president of the USA does not even know
how you write "tap" in his completely unevidenced mails that the former
president of the USA spied on him. As I have been saying now for nearly
a year, I think Trump is insane and should be removed for that
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: The ongoing
mystery of Russia’s role in the 2016 U.S. election took an unexpected
turn early Saturday morning when President Trump took to Twitter,
writing, “Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my "wires tapped" in
Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is
Trump went on to tweet, "How low has President Obama gone to tapp…”
—spelled T-A-P-P— “…to tapp my phones during the very sacred election
process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!" President Trump
offered no evidence, but within 24 hours he called on lawmakers to probe
reason as a president of the USA, as indeed does Robert Reich: See here.
Apart from that, I do not quite see what Trump's fantasies about being tapped have to do with Russia's role, but I agree Trump is insane.
There is this on an interview with former NSA-director Clapper (who lied to Congress but was not corrected nor removed):
During the same interview, James Clapper said he has seen no evidence
of collusion between members of the Trump campaign and the Russians.
Meanwhile, The New York Times is reporting FBI
director James Comey has asked the Justice Department to publicly
reject Trump’s assertion that Obama ordered the tapping of Trump’s
phones. The Times described Comey’s request as a "remarkable rebuke of a sitting president."
I don't think one can trust James Clapper and I agree with The Times that "Comey’s request is a "remarkable rebuke of a sitting president." Then again, if there is a deep state, both are or were probable members of it.
Finally, here is Robert Parry quoted on there being no evidence for Russian hacking:
Yes, indeed - and this is the same thing as William Binney (<- Wikipedia) said last year. And so far, (bolding added) "the holdovers from the Obama
administration, [..] have not presented the real evidence to show that
there was this effort by the Russians to leak this material or hack this
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, Bob
Parry, you have written there is no “there there” in this issue of all
of the hullabaloo that we’ve seen in the press over Russia and Trump.
Can you expound on that and give us your take?
Well, I’m not sure there is no “there there.” What I’m saying is that
so far, the Obama administration and as far as we know, what has
happened since then, with some of the holdovers from the Obama
administration, they have not presented the real evidence to show that
there was this effort by the Russians to leak this material or hack this
material and provide it to WikiLeaks. WikiLeaks has flatly denied that
they received this information from the Russians.
And since they have been asked to do so ever since November, and could
easily deliver the evidence if it exists from the NSA, my conclusion is
that - so far - there is no evidence for Russian hacking of the
presidential elections (and it seems unlikely it will be ever produced).
90% of American Households Lost an Average of $17,000 in Wealth to the
Plutocrats in 2016
The fourth and last item today is by Paul Buchheit on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:
America has always been great for the richest 1%, and it's rapidly becoming greater. Confirmation comes from recent work by Thomas Piketty, Emmanuel Saez, and Gabriel Zucman; and from the 2015-2016 Credit Suisse Global Wealth Databooks (GWD). The data relevant to this report is summarized here.
And also in this article. Here is the first bit:
The Richest 1% Extracted Wealth from Every Other Segment of Society
These multi-millionaires effectively shifted nearly $4 trillion in
wealth away from the rest of the nation to themselves in 2016. While
there's no need to offer condolences to the rest of the top 10%, who
still have an average net worth of $1.3 million, nearly half of the
wealth transfer ($1.94 trillion) came from the nation's poorest 90% --
the middle and lower classes, according to Piketty and Saez and Zucman.
That's over $17,000 in housing and savings per lower-to-middle-class household lost to the super-rich.
Here is the second bit:
Put another way, the average 1% household took an additional $3 million of our national wealth in one year while education and infrastructure went largely unfunded.
It Gets Worse: Each MIDDLE-CLASS Household Lost $35,000 to the 1%
According to Piketty and Saez and Zucman, the true middle class is
"the group of adults with income between the median and the 90th
percentile." This group of 50 million households lost $1.76 trillion of
their wealth in 2016, or over $35,000 each.
Here is the third bit:
I say. This is a fine article with hard facts, and I strongly recommend it.
Even the Wages of the Poorest Americans Have Been Transferred to the Plutocrats
As Piketty, Saez, and Zucman note, the richest 1% and the poorest 50% "have basically switched their income shares." They explain,
"We observe a complete collapse of the bottom 50% income share in the
US between 1978 and 2015, from 20% to 12% of total income, while the top
1% income share rose from 11% to 20%."
It's bad enough that the poorest 50% of America have no appreciable
wealth, but their income has not increased in 40 years (see Table 1 here). More evidence comes from Pew Research.