Sunday, May 14, 2017

Crisis: On Terrorism, Oliver Stone, Russia-gate, Trump Is Deserved, George Carlin

Sections                                                                     crisis index

1. “Misunderstanding Terrorism”: How the Us vs. Them Mentality
     Will Never Stop Attacks

2. Oliver Stone on the History of Wall Street Corruption and the
     Future of American Military Power

The ‘Soft Coup’ of Russia-gate
Sorry, Folks, But Donald Trump Is Everything We Deserve
5. Commemorating George Carlin

This is a Nederlog of Sunday
, May 14, 2017.

This is a crisis log with five items and six dotted links: Item 1 is about the review of a book ("Misunderstanding Terrorism") that may be quite good; item 2 is about a long and good interview of Oliver Stone by Robert Scheer; item 3 is about Russia-gate and Trump; item 4 is a quite good satirical piece in Trump; and item 5 commemorates George Carlin, who was born on May 12, and also links to a clip.

And I today uploaded an updated version of the
crisis index: Until the end of April, I wrote 1562 crisis files, starting September 1, 2008.

And this is the usual about the updating problem that I am now plagued with for no less than 1 1/2 years, though now only at one of my two sites:
May 14: As to the updating problem: The Danish site was againon time today. The Dutch site was on time today, probably because it is Sunday, and that is the only time it is on time (mostly) each week...

They did it well from 1996 till 2015, updating within minutes at most and without any problem, as indeed is the work of ISPs.

I think they totally stopped doing this to limit the readings of my site. I think (but I don't know anything whatsoever about "xs4all") they now update once a week, which means that they are - for me - over 10,000 times worse than they were between 1996 and 2015.

These horrors happen now for the 16th month in succession. And they happen on purpose, because it is extremely simple to do this properly, and it was done properly from 1996 till late in 2015. (If you want these horrors, then sign in with "xs4all.nl"; if not, avoid them like the plague.)

And what changed is that you have to refresh (and refresh and refresh and refresh) to get the latest, which is again NOT as it was before, from 1996 till 2015, and which for me this only serves to make it extremely difficult for naive users to get the latest from my site - that for them may seem to have stuck somewhere in 2016 or 2015.

And I have to add that about where my site on xs4all.nl stuck for others I have NO idea AT ALL: It may be December 31, 2015. (Xs4all wants  immediate payment if you are a week behind. Xs4all.nl has been destroying my site now for over a year. I completely distrust them, but I also do not know whether they are doing it or some secret service is.)
1. “Misunderstanding Terrorism”: How the Us vs. Them Mentality Will Never Stop Attacks

The first article today is by Murtaza Hussain on The Intercept:
This starts as follows:

Finding and stopping terrorists before they strike is often compared to looking for a needle in a haystack, a cliché that speaks to the difficulty of preventing a crime that, while deadly, is uncommon. Counterterrorism officials still suggest that the task would become easier if they could use profiling to target Muslim communities. In other words, if they could shrink the size of the haystack.

But a new book by Dr. Marc Sageman, a veteran counterterrorism researcher and former CIA operations officer, argues that this approach, even if carried to its fullest extension in a nightmare scenario for civil liberties, would still be ineffective, because jihadist terrorism is such a statistically rare phenomenon.

In his book “Misunderstanding Terrorism,” Sageman counts 66 Islamic jihadist terrorist plots in Western countries between 2002 and 2012, involving a total of 220 perpetrators. This figure works out to an average of 22 terrorists per year, across a population of roughly 700 million people. Even narrowed to just the Muslim population in Western countries, estimated at roughly 25 million people, that’s less than one in 1 million Muslims a year who could be considered terrorists.

I say, which I do because I completely agree with this (terrorism is (i) hysteria in the public, and (ii) the intentionally false bullshit argument to break everyone's privacy), but indeed I also seldomly read this. And so it is fine this happens here, indeed based on a solid study.

Incidentally, note please that for these 220 perpetrators, the privacies of at least
700 million people are now - to the best of my knowledge - part and parcel of the dossiers of many secret services, who will be able to abuse their knowledge in myriads of ways, all completely secret: That is the current "democracy".

Here is more:
Because terrorism is so uncommon, he writes, any strategy for combating it that involves policing entire communities is likely to end up harming huge numbers of innocent people — thus feeding the same climate of alienation and hostility that fosters political violence in the first place.
Yes and no: I agree but - to the best of my knowledge - stealing the privacies of hundreds of millions of people without any connection to terrorism is harming exceedingly huge numbers of hitherto private persons (now fully albeit secretively known).

Here is what the research was about and concluded:
“Misunderstanding Terrorism” analyzes every jihadist terrorist plot that occurred in the United States and Europe over a 10-year period ending in 2012.
His research comes to two broad conclusions. The first is that violent terrorist plots in Western countries are a statistically tiny phenomenon, which makes blanket counterterrorism approaches an ill-suited response. The second takeaway is that “social identity theory” — that is, how people self-identify in a crisis — is the primary motivating factor behind terrorist attacks.
The first paragraph is nice to know. The first conclusion in the second paragraph was completely known to me by 2005, when I first wrote about terrorism, in Dutch (here).

Also, this means if "
blanket counterterrorism" occurs, as it still does on a truly enormous and very frightening scale then (i) "terrorism" was far more probably a lie, in order to secretly acquire everybody's privacies (incomes, tastes, values, beliefs, preferences, ownerships - in brief: everything), which is indeed what I think, and indeed since 2005.

As to the
“social identity theory”: People do not "identify themselves", but they get important part of their identities by playing parts in diverse groups (families, friends, and colleagues, notably). So for me (a psychologist) it is - probably - not a “social identity theory” that plays the main role, but groupthinking.

Here is the last part that I'll quote from this article:
But why does the threat of terrorism resonate so much more in the popular imagination than other dangers? Sageman argues that identity politics influence our response to violence, both for victims and for perpetrators. Most Americans perceive terrorism as something that comes from an “out-group” rather than from people with whom they identify. As a result, an attack creates a sense of solidarity, leading people to react emotively, in contrast to the oft-muted response to more common forms of violence.
First, again see my groupthinking. Second, I once more quote Hermann Goering:

Third, the common people are afraid of terrorism because they are systematically made afraid of terrorism and terrorists, while it ought to be clear, that even now, in a time of purported "terrorism" (that state's terrorists systematically plead, to further the chances and the extents of their own terrorism of people's personal privacies) fewer people are killed by terrorists than by cows or by lightning.

It's crazy, from a fairly objective and rational point of view, but it works. For more, see items 4 and 5 below.

And this is a recommended article.

Oliver Stone on the History of Wall Street Corruption and the Future of American Military Power

The second article is by Emma Niles on Truthdig:
This starts as follows (and thankfully Truthdig has now attached a written version, which I very much prefer, because I read very much faster than speech, and I only extremely rarely wish to listen to interviews that take several hours):
While the first half of Truthdig Editor in Chief Robert Scheer’s hard-hitting conversation with acclaimed director Oliver Stone focused largely on foreign policy, Part 2 of the “Scheer Intelligence” interview centers on the transformation of the American economy. 
First, the first half is also well worth reading, as it also comes with text supplied. And second, as I said, I almost always avoid listening to three hours of text, if I can read the same in 10 to 20 minutes, as happens to be the case, for me. (So I am grateful that the texts are supplied.)

One of the films Oliver Stone made is "Wall Street"
Stone, who says his hardworking father inspired him to make “Wall Street,” tells Scheer he “wanted to do something quite different” from his earlier films.

“Money, when I grew up, was never talked about. It was considered gauche, it was not something you were proud of,” Stone explains. “ ‘Wall Street’ started when I was researching ‘Scarface’ in Miami in 1980 and running into this phenomenon of the ‘get rich quick’ schemes. ... I traveled up to Wall Street from Miami, and ... a lot of people who I’d known as young men were now working on Wall Street—at the same age I was—and making millions of dollars a year.”

Stone adds that by the 2000s, when he made the sequel, Wall Street was unrecognizable. “It was another world,” he says. “We were saying [that] the corruption is beyond just being corruption, it’s just reached another level of acceptance. It’s a low-hanging fruit to become rich.”

I think that is probably quite true, but I have no direct experience. Here is the last bit of Emma Niles's introduction that I'll quote:

Stone also shares his fears about the future of U.S. military power, telling Scheer that nuclear war seems more likely than ever. 

I think Stone is quite right. Now to the interview:

RS: The new crowd, the Gordon Gecko crowd that came in, they just wanted to get theirs and get out before the shit hit the fan. That was the basic idea.

OS: Yeah. Because the money was so big.

RS: And that’s what your movie captured; it was a swing moment in American society. Now we accept and we know that, these guys were a bunch of swindlers, you know, made legal because they could change the law and make what they do legal. But they were totally irresponsible, totally out of control. The thing that from a partisan point of view that is missed, is that it was Bill Clinton who revived this radical deregulation, worked with the, you know, the republicans in the Senate and in Congress, and pushed through the reversal of Franklin—he did what the original republicans had said they wanted to do. He reversed Franklin Roosevelt’s legacy.

Yes indeed - or in my own words:

First, the bankers of Wall Street are swindlers and criminals who now "work" almost completely without any control, and who can make billions in illegal ways that are never punished, for the utterly bullshit reason that if they would be punished for their major crimes, their banks would collapse. This is utter illegal crap, but very widely accepted.

Second, Bill Clinton in effect signed the laws which allowed the bankers to go full tilt in almost every kind of fraud and criminality. And Scheer is completely correct, I think, when he said: Bill Clinton "
reversed Franklin Roosevelt’s legacy". He did, very consciously as well, and he has meanwhile been made a multi-millionaire by extremely well-paid and repeated thank-yous from the bankers. ("And that is how it goes, these days.")

Here is Oliver Stone:

OS: And Clinton, I think, realized that that’s where the bread was; the butter would be the banks, the money; the Democratic Party could find a new life out of the banks. And he somehow changed the whole—the whole system did shift about that time. And you know, the Clinton years were thought of as good years, but there was a lot of things that were happening underneath the surface that we now see were disastrous, such as the reestablishment of NATO in 1999, major countries in Eastern Europe joining NATO. His—the power of the Rubin—Robert Rubin, remember him, and the head of the Federal Reserve Board. And Larry Summers, I played tennis with him not too long ago. These people came into being, it was a “committee to rule the world,” remember those three people?

Again yes indeed: Quite so. And Rubin and Summers are two of the sickest persons known to me, simply because they are more than clever enough to understand quite well what they are doing, and who they are systematically ripping off: The poor and the uneducated.

Here is more Oliver Stone:

OS: (...) But the truth was, we had changed. And in a sense, there was no need to do a Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps because our Wall Street, our society had become so corrupt by 2008 that money was being made. In other words, the Geckos were out of business because the banks had become the Geckos. And we’re talking, not $20, $30, $40 million, $50, $200 million; we’re talking a billion dollars now, per individual. That never, that concept very rarely existed in the old days; it would be five, six individuals, the Gettys, the Rockefellers, who would talk that kind of money. All of a sudden, anybody could make a billion dollars.

Again precisely so, and this was also done deliberately, and much of it was done to the tunes of "Freedom! Freedom! Freedom!" - but for the few very rich, to rob the very many poor, which was precisely never added.

And this is on Trump and his power to blow absolutely everybody up (at least twenty times as well, with modern nuclear weapons):

RS: And we have a president who many people feel is somewhat unstable, or very much unstable, who is salesman before he’s anything else, and blah, blah, blah. And he has the power, as any president has had, to destroy life on this planet in a matter of moments. Right? And the question is, why hasn’t that been contained?

I am a psychologist, and I say he is a narcissist, which is a personal pathology, that also means he should never have been allowed to become president. But alas.

Here is the last bit that I'll quote, from the end:

RS: And mentioning Hiroshima and Nagasaki is not a bad way to end an interview of this sort, because the fact is, it’s the greatest act of terror in world history in that you deliberately, deliberately decide to incinerate people in daytime when children are going to school to maximize the casualties, to show that your investment in this bomb was actually justified.

OS: I most fear North Korea right now, in this moment, because it’s a natural place for Mr. Trump to try out his new—if he wants to be the tough guy, as Bush was, we’re going to see an example somewhere soon.

I completely agree. This is a recommended article, in which there is also a lot more than I quoted.

3. The ‘Soft Coup’ of Russia-gate

The third article is by Robert Parry on Consortiumnews:
This starts as follows:
Where is Stanley Kubrick when we need him? If he hadn’t died in 1999, he would be the perfect director to transform today’s hysteria over Russia into a theater-of-the-absurd movie reprising his Cold War classic, “Dr. Strangelove,” which savagely satirized the madness of nuclear brinksmanship and the crazed ideology behind it.
The question is a good one in principle, but less so in fact, because Stanley Kubrick
(<-Wikipedia) died at 70, and "Dr. Strangelove" (<-Wikipedia), one of the best and one of the funniest films I have seen, is from 1964 (53 years ago, this year).

But this was an introductory question. Here is more on many Democrats and Donald Trump:
I realize that many Democrats, liberals and progressives hate Donald Trump so much that they believe that any pretext is justified in taking him down, even if that plays into the hands of the neoconservatives and other warmongers. Many people who detest Trump view Russia-gate as the most likely path to achieve Trump’s impeachment, so this desirable end justifies whatever means.

Some people have told me that they even believe that it is the responsibility of the major news media, the law enforcement and intelligence communities, and members of Congress to engage in a “soft coup” against Trump – also known as a “constitutional coup” or “deep state coup” – for the “good of the country.”
I have thought about this question before, and my answer is indebted to the fact that I am a psychologist:

I dislike and fear the deep state (especially because it is nearly completely secret), but I also dislike and fear being blown up, together with hundreds of millions more, because Donald Trump had a fit of pique, and while I dislike both the persons of the deep state and Donald Trump, I also think Trump is not sane (<- evidence by psychiatrists and psychologists) and should for that reason not be president of the USA. I want him removed, because not removing him risks the lives of hundreds of millions and the total civilization (such as it is).

Here is more on Russia-gate:
That is where Russia-gate comes in. The gauzy allegation that Trump and/or his advisers somehow colluded with Russian intelligence officials to rig the 2016 election would probably clear the threshold for an extreme action like removing a President.

And, given the determination of many key figures in the Establishment to get rid of Trump, it should come as no surprise that no one seems to care that no actual government-verified evidence has been revealed publicly to support any of the Russia-gate allegations.

There’s not even any public evidence from U.S. government agencies that Russia did “meddle” in the 2016 election or – even if Russia did slip Democratic emails to WikiLeaks (which WikiLeaks denies) – there has been zero evidence that the scheme resulted from collusion with Trump’s campaign.

Yes indeed, as I have been saying since 2016 as well: There is not any evidence known to the public that Russia-gate is true. And after 7 months, and what with 17 secret services in the USA, it seems rather unlikely there will ever be real evidence of this kind.

Here is the end of the article:

Russia-gate, the hazy suggestion that Putin put Trump in the White House and that Trump is a Putin “puppet” (as Clinton claimed), became the principal weapon to use in destroying Trump’s presidency.

However, besides the risks to U.S. stability that would come from an Establishment-driven “soft coup,” there is the additional danger of ratcheting up tensions so high with nuclear-armed Russia that this extreme Russia-bashing takes on a life – or arguably many, many deaths – of its own.

Which is why America now might need a piercing satire of today’s Russia-phobia or at least a revival of the Cold War classic, “Dr. Strangelove,” subtitled “How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.”

I mostly agree - but I also want to get rid of Trump, and I know, as a psychologist, that it is most unlikely that he will get any saner than he is. And if I have to choose from two evils, as it seems I must, I choose against the insane one with his finger on the trigger.

4. Sorry, Folks, But Donald Trump Is Everything We Deserve

The fourth article today is by David Macaray on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:
The main reason (besides the grinding repetition) why I can’t bear to watch comedians do their self-congratulatory Donald Trump shtick is that their phony indignation is based on the premise that this guy is somehow unworthy of being our president, which is ludicrous.  Trump is not only worthy of being president, he’s perfect for it.
Well... I have said, quite a few times already in Nederlog, that Donald Trump got elected because many Americans are stupid and many Americans are ignorant, and
I still think so, indeed in good part because I am neither.

Then again, I am also well aware that there is a minority of quite intelligent and reasonably educated Americans, but indeed this is a minority, and about the majority the following is (more or less) true - and I quote the headings, but suppressed the texts, that you can read if you want by clicking the last dotted link:
Consider:  The U.S. is, first and foremost, a nation of dedicated consumers. (..)
Consider:  We Americans don’t form long queues outside of poetry or literature readings. (..)
Consider:  We idolize rich people.(...)
Consider:  We idolize TV celebrities, and Trump was a TV celebrity. (...)
Consider:  Unlike much of the world, we Americans despise intellectuals.  We pretend we don’t, but we do.  We hate know-it-alls, we hate smarty-pants media types, and we hate "deep thinkers."  We don’t want to be reminded of how ignorant we are.  We like brevity and plain talk.  We like certitude.  We hate nuance, ambiguity, and self-doubt.  Arguably, not counting Ronald Reagan, Trump is the most anti-intellectual president since Andrew Jackson.  (...)
Consider:  We Americans respect muscle, strength and power, which is to say, we prefer war to peace. (...)
Consider:  We Americans are a narcissistic people. (..)
The one bit I have left standing is about the strong hatred most ordinary Americans have for real intellectuals.

I have learned about that hatred especially on Phoenix Rising, indeed not because it is for people with ME/CFS, but because it is an almost wholly anonymous site, where I have seen quite a few really intelligent people being hunted away by hordes of totally anonymous idiots, with an average IQ of around 85, and with "arguments" that only appeals to people with those gifts.

It also seems - I despise and abhor Facebook too much to be willing to find out - there are some 2 billion mostly anonymous members there, of roughly the same gifts, and with very similar attitudes. And I am sorry, but I am out, indeed because I fear that these enormous amounts of totally ignorant quite stupid people, who attack anyone who is more intelligent than they are, may be the end of the world as well (as "social media"), for policies are made for majorities, and hardly ever by enlightened minorities.

Here is the end:

And yet, for all this, we pretend to be surprised that we have elected a shallow, dishonest, narcissistic bully as our president?  As Kurt Vonnegut wrote in Mother Night,  "We are what we pretend to be.  So we must be careful about what we pretend to be."
I like this, for this satire, and it is also satire based on fact. This is a recommended article, and here is some more from a similar, but greater source:

5. Commemorating George Carlin

The fifth and last article today is by Abby Zimet on George Carlin (<-Wikipedia), who was born on May 12, 1937, which I knew but forgot, indeed in part because May 12 is also international M.E. day.

Then again, the big difference between George Carlin and the very great number of anonymous writers I know of, is that Carlin was far more intelligent, far better learned, and far more courageous than any of them - and he was extremely funny, and often spoke the truth.

Here is Abby Zimet's article:
This is from Common Dreams, and it backs up the previous item:
The take-no-prisoners George Carlin, who died of heart failure in 2008, would have turned 80 on Friday. It's impossible not to wonder what Carlin - the guy who famously proclaimed, "In the United States, anybody can be president. That's the problem" - would have made of the Trump catastrophe, other than a nice spicy stew. Carlin's prescient, brutal, truth-telling cynicism extended not just to politicians but to the soulless corporations that owned them and the shoddy culture that produced them, arguing, "This is what we have to offer. It’s what our system produces: Garbage in, garbage out. If you have selfish, ignorant citizens, you’re going to get selfish, ignorant leaders." He portrayed a bleak landscape of "no rights, only temporary privileges," where no important questions were asked and "if you think too much, they'll take you away." "When fascism comes to America, it will not be in brown and black shirts," he once warned. "It will be Nike sneakers and Smiley shirts."
Quite so! There also is clip of George Carlin, who explains that he likes ordinary people, but "in short bursts", precisely because he hates stupid bullshit. He could have spoken for me:
Enjoy! (And thank you, Common Dreams: This is one the reasons I really like you.)


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