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Nederlog

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Crisis: Trump's Budget, Europeans, WikiLeaks, US "Journalism", Big Data


Sections                                                                     crisis index
Introduction

1. Trump’s Budget Cuts Deeply Into Medicaid and Anti-Poverty
     Efforts

2. Europe’s View of Trump
3.
All the WikiLeaks Fit to Print
4. US Journalism’s New ‘Golden Age’?
5.
Big Data Exposed
Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Tuesday, May 23, 2017.

Summary: This is a crisis log with five items and five dotted links: Item 1 is about the NYT's report on Trump's budget (for the very rich); item 2 is about an article by Robert Reich about the "European views" (by officials and ministers) on Trump; item 3 is about an article by Robert Scheer about Wikileaks; item 4 is about the Golden Age For Journalism that the American mainstream media project: If honest, they would have said it is a Golden Age For Propaganda; and item 5 is about Big Data, and both frightening and probably correct.

And this is the usual about the updating problem that I am now plagued with for more than 1 1/2 years, though now only at one of my two sites:
May 23: As to the updating problem: The Danish site was again on time today. The Dutch site was  also on time today, although this is rather amazing (the last 1 1/2 years).

They did it well from 1996 till 2015, updating within minutes at most and without any problem, as indeed is the work of ISPs. Now this takes a full week, on average.

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. Trump’s Budget Cuts Deeply Into Medicaid and Anti-Poverty Efforts

The first article today is by Julie Hirschfeld Davies on The New York Times:
This starts as follows:
President Trump plans to unveil on Tuesday a $4.1 trillion budget for 2018 that would cut deeply into programs for the poor, from health care and food stamps to student loans and disability payments, laying out an austere vision for reordering the nation’s priorities.

The document, grandly titled “A New Foundation for American Greatness,” encapsulates much of the “America first” message that powered Mr. Trump’s campaign. It calls for an increase in military spending of 10 percent and spending more than $2.6 billion for border security — including $1.6 billion to begin work on a wall on the border with Mexico — as well as huge tax reductions and an improbable promise of 3 percent economic growth.

The wildly optimistic projections balance Mr. Trump’s budget, at least on paper, even though the proposal makes no changes to Social Security’s retirement program or Medicare, the two largest drivers of the nation’s debt.

I say, which I do because Trump's budget is new to me. Then again, it is in line with his sayings and tweets, and it seems to come down to a threefold program: America Will Turn Great Again, by enriching the very rich, by stealing billions from the non-rich, and by greatly increasing military spending and building a wall.

It is - in my opinion - both sick and insane, because it tries to convince the 90% of the non-rich that taking their money and giving it to the already very rich will improve the conditions of the 90% by what must be real magic, and is actually pure and total lies, deceptions and propaganda.

Then again, this utter bullshit did get popular in the USA: The fact that it is based on nonsensical lies does not prevent its being sold to the people and accepted by many.

Also, the president's budget (if effected: see below) will steal a lot from the many non-rich that elected him:

To compensate, the package contains deep cuts in entitlement programs that would hit hardest many of the economically strained voters who propelled the president into office. Over the next decade, it calls for slashing more than $800 billion from Medicaid, the federal health program for the poor, while slicing $192 billion from nutritional assistance and $272 billion over all from welfare programs. And domestic programs outside of military and homeland security whose budgets are determined annually by Congress would also take a hit, their funding falling by $57 billion, or 10.6 percent.

The plan would cut by more than $72 billion the disability benefits upon which millions of Americans rely. It would eliminate loan programs that subsidize college education for the poor and those who take jobs in government or nonprofit organizations.

That is to say: The president's budget plans to kill many of those who depend on Medicaid; it plans to starve those who depend on "nutritional assistance"; and it will probably also drive many on disability benefits to suicide.

But it will make the very rich a whole lot richer by cutting their taxes, and the non-rich may flatter them with the illusion that "this will trickle down" (on the few survivors, possibly, after ten years or so, if the very rich then are at least as rich as now).

Then again, the president's annual budget is not a law, but corresponds to his desires:

The president’s annual budget — more a message document than a practical set of marching orders even in the best of times — routinely faces challenges on Capitol Hill. Lawmakers jealously guard their prerogative to control federal spending and shape government programs. But Mr. Trump’s wish list, in particular, faces long odds, with Democrats uniformly opposed and Republicans already showing themselves to be squeamish about some of the president’s plans.

“It probably is the most conservative budget that we’ve had under Republican or Democrat administrations in decades,” said Representative Mark Meadows, Republican of North Carolina and the chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus.

Yes indeed: I would guess since Reagan was president. And this is a recommended article.

2. Europe’s View of Trump

The second article is by Robert Reich on his site:

This starts as follows:

European governments, preparing for a round of major summits with Donald Trump, are wary.

I spent much of the past week speaking with officials and cabinet ministers in Europe. All they wanted to talk about was Trump. 

Here, in summary, are the most frequent remarks I heard from them, and from others in my travels, in rough order of frequency:

Interesting - and if you wonder why a European like myself cannot get to talk "officials and cabinet ministers in Europe", which happens to be quite true, the explanation is that Reich is both well-known and was a secretary under Bill Clinton: Apparently he can call them and be replied by them.

Here is some of what Reich found, among "officials and cabinet ministers in Europe":

1. Trump is unstable, and we’re not going to count on anything he says or commits to.

I agree, and indeed go further, mostly because I am a psychologist: I think the many psychologists and psychiatrists who have insisted that (1) Trump is a megalomaniac aka narcissist are quite right, as they are also (what seems to be denied by many who do not have a degree in psychology or psychiatry) in saying that (2) megalomania aka narcissism is a personal pathology and a form of insanity that should disqualify Trump as president of the USA.

Then there is this:

4. Trump is allied with Putin to bring Europe down.

5. There’s no doubt Trump worked with Putin to win the U.S. presidential election.

For me this shows European officials and ministers read the mainstrean press or watch the mainstream media and are mostly convinced that what these convey is true. I think neither of these points - as stated, at least - has any evidence (so far).

Then there is on Trump's character, his personality and his views:

7. How did you Americans come to elect this ego-maniac? (Others called him an infant, moron, ignoramus, fool.)

8. He’s another Berlusconi (or Franco, Mussolini, Salazar, Hitler).

Point 7 again seems to be based mostly on a combination of ignorance about psychiatry and clinical psychology, while point 8 only rather vaguely compares Trump to other authoritarians.

And in fact I think Trump is an ignoramus, but not a fool, a moron or an infant, while I think his political program (also seeing item [1]) is an excellent approximation of what I mean by neofascism (which also at least gets clearly defined by me).

Here are the last two points:

9. We remember fascism. We never thought it would happen in America.

10. The world depends on American leadership. We’re very worried.

No, the claim that the Europeans, in 2017 "remember fascism" is mostly a plain lie, and is so for two main reasons:

First, people born in 1945 are or will be 72 in 2017, and will not remember anything of fascism. The only ones who remember it must be at least 82 in 2017, and there are very few left of them.

And second, while I am one of the few who read a whole lot about fascism and the history of the first half of the 20th Century, I am one of the few who did, and the reason I did so was that my grandfather was murdered in a German concentration- camp and my father survived more than 3 years and 9 months being locked up as
a "political terrorist" in four such camps.

Very few of my age (I am 67) had that background. In Holland over 1% of the total population was gassed because of their supposed racial background, but the Dutch were more anti-semitic in the 1950ies (according to quite a few) than ever before.

So, in brief: I don't think the many know or remember much about fascism, because it is too long ago to remember and was not interesting enough for most to read up on. And indeed if they had done so, they would be more worried than they are in fact.

Finally, I don't think "American leadership" is a necessity, and certainly not with a president like Trump, but I agree it is, still, mostly a fact.

3. All the WikiLeaks Fit to Print

The third article is by Robert Scheer on Truthdig:

This starts as follows:

There is a craven disconnect between the eagerness of leading editors to exploit the important news revealed by WikiLeaks and their efforts to distance themselves from both the courageous website and Bradley Manning, the alleged source of documents posted there. Alleged is required when referring to the Army private so as not to repeat the egregious error of a constitutional-law-professor-turned-president who has already presumed Manning guilty of crimes for which he is not even formally charged.

“He broke the law,” President Barack Obama said of Manning by way of countering his own supporters at a San Francisco fundraiser who dared question the conditions of Manning’s imprisonment. Conditions that Human Rights Watch challenged as “extremely restrictive and possibly punitive and degrading.” Manning was transferred last week to a Kansas prison from Quantico, Va., where for months he had been subjected to shackling, forced nudity, isolation and other harsh treatment—all of which was justified by the government as necessary to prevent him from committing suicide. Clearly the feds were trying to break the man. 

As somewhat knowledgeable readers probably saw, this is in fact not a recent article:
It was originally published on April 26, 2011. It was yesterday republished by Truthdig because Manning was released on May 17, while Sweden has dropped the rape inquiry  against Assange.

There is also this:
Why indeed is Manning the one behind bars and not the government officials who kept hidden unpleasant truths about this nation’s policies that the public has a right to know? And why do leaders of our constitutionally protected free press now seek to distance themselves from news sources that have performed a great public service? A service documented by the fact, as tallied by The Atlantic magazine, that more than half of the issues of The New York Times this year have carried stories that relied on WikiLeaks’ disclosures.
I think the questions are quite justified, but it seems to me that "the free press", if we mean by that the mainstream media and not the others, is ever growing less free and more lying and deceptive, and this also happened since 2011, or so it seems to me.
To date there has been no evidence that the leaks seriously compromised U.S. national security, and the information involved was of the lowest level of classification. Here, too, Obama was wrong when he insisted that there is something indelibly clear and sacrosanct about the classification of government secrets, when in fact the rules are ill-defined and routinely violated by government officials interested in using secret data to buttress their policy arguments. It was nonsense for the president to state “I have to abide by certain rules of classified information” when he doesn’t. Rules of classification derive from presidential executive orders, and the president has the authority to declassify on the fly, as is convenient to his purpose.
Yes indeed. Incidentally, the fact that "the president has the authority to declassify on the fly" became fairly big news with president Trump, when it turned out that he had informed Russian diplomats of important secrets.

And there is this - to my mind - rather sad ending to the article, that dates back to 2011:

It is obvious that Manning is being punished because government officials don’t like to be shown to be so deeply in the wrong.

That was the view of former State Department spokesman Philip J. Crowley, who resigned after daring to speak the truth about the mistreatment of Manning, labeling his detention “ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid.” It is all that, and it is high time that the media that confirmed the value of the WikiLeaks information defended the rights of the whistle-blowers who by challenging the code of official secrecy let the public in on the real story.

The reason this ending is rather sad is that the mainstream press has only grown worse - more dishonest, more deceptive, more propagandistic - ever since.

This is a recommended article.

4. US Journalism’s New ‘Golden Age’?

The fourth article today is by Robert Parry on Consortiumnews:

This starts as follows:

The mainstream U.S. media is congratulating itself on its courageous defiance of President Trump and its hard-hitting condemnations of Russia, but the press seems to have forgotten that its proper role within the U.S. democratic structure is not to slant stories one way or another but to provide objective information for the American people.

Yes, indeed. And in fact it would seem to me that the mainstream media are rapidly growing worse and worse, simply because - as Parry says - they are very routinely slanting "stories one way or another", that is, they are quite consciously not telling the truth anymore, but trying to move their readers to support propaganda.

And that in turn means that they are betraying the roles a free press ought to play: They no longer "provide objective information for the American people", but instead they tell their readers what they ought to think and how they ought to evaluate (purported) facts, instead of trying to write the truth and leaving the decisions to what extent they believe this to their readers.

There is also this:

By that standard – of respecting that the people are the nation’s true sovereigns – the mainstream media is failing again. Indeed, the chasm between what America’s elites are thinking these days and what many working-class Americans are feeling is underscored by the high-fiving that’s going on inside the elite mainstream news media, which is celebrating its Trump- and Russia-bashing as the “new golden age of American journalism.”

The New York Times and The Washington Post, in particular, view themselves as embattled victims of a tyrannical abuser. The Times presents itself as the brave guardian of “truth” and the Post added a new slogan: “Democracy dies in darkness.” In doing so, they have moved beyond the normal constraints of professional, objective journalism into political advocacy – and they are deeply proud of themselves.

Yes indeed. And for me mainstream media that lie, that propagandize, that deceive and that mislead, which is what we now have in the USA, are not a "New Golden Age" of Journalism, but are the death of any real, any honest, any truthful journalism, and has replaced this by lying or propagandizing for the rich or by lying and propagandizing for the government.

Here are some facts about the actual practice of mainstream "journalism":

Are we seeing a new “golden age” of journalism or a McCarthyistic lynch mob operating on behalf of elites who disdain the U.S. constitutional process for electing American presidents?

For one thing, you might have thought that professional journalists would have demanded proof about the predicate for this burgeoning “scandal” – whether the Russians really did “hack” into emails of the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta and then slip the information to WikiLeaks to influence the outcome of the 2016 election.

Yes, I agree. There is considerably more. This is the last bit that I'll quote from this article, which is from near the end:

Clearly, we are all supposed to hate and ridicule Vladimir Putin. He is being demonized as the new “enemy” in much the way that George Orwell foresaw in his dystopian novel, 1984. Yet, what is perhaps most troubling is that the major U.S. news outlets, which played instrumental roles in demonizing leaders of Iraq, Syria and Libya, believe they are engaged in some “golden age” journalism, rather than writing propaganda.

I agree more or less. That is, I completely agree that the American mainstream media are producing propaganda rather than fact (often), but I don't believe that the "journalists" who do so actually "believe they are engaged in some “golden age” journalism".

I think they know quite well what they are doing, and that they are approximately as honest as are most Senators and Congressmen whose opinions depend on the amounts of money they can get from their lobbyists.

It seems the same is true of the editors of the mainstream media, and of most "journalists". Then again, I would have agreed with these editors and journalists if they would have honestly said what they are currenly engaging in: The Golden Age of Propaganda, presented as "journalism".

5. Big Data Exposed

The fifth and last article today is by James Corbett on the International Forecaster Weekly:

This starts as follows:

When the history of the 21st century is written, it could very well be the story of real boys and girls that willingly become marionettes. They stare blankly into their smartphones, prove themselves selfish, cowardly and false, and a group of technocrats puppeteer them.

Yes indeed. And this is the future that I foresee and very much fear:

A neofascist empire ruled by and for the very rich, that is completely capable of making the enslaved subjects whom they allow to live to think, value, believe, know and feel as the very rich desire, because everyone is known to the full by the secret services that effectively rule for the rulers, and everyone is deceived, manipulated, and influenced precisely as the rich desire is the best for their (superhuman) interests.

Here is one example of how this is being done:

Allow me to illustrate: You are a white, middle class American woman in your late 20s. You are active on Facebook, where you have a lot of friends, but you spend most of your time interacting with your sister, your boyfriend, and your BFFs from college. You watch a lot of 90s teen dramas but specifically skip the episode of Felicity where she cuts her hair. You work at a dental office in a mid-rise commercial building and eat lunch at the diner in the strip mall next door every Thursday. You used to fly home for Thanksgiving and Christmas every year on United, but you recently switched to Southwest. You like ballroom dancing on the weekends. Your last three purchases were a patchwork and quilting magazine, a 32 lb. bag of chicken-flavor puppy chow, and a silk tie (a present for your father's birthday). You are agreeable but not very conscientious and you are prone to worry.

Et voilą. Your specially-crafted toothpaste advertisement is served.

I am none of the things described - for one thing, I think Facebook is an utterly sick totally immoral fraud meant to make money from billions of fools - but this is how it goes for billions of people, who do not seem to know or to care that Facebook sucks up and sells their most private data as it pleases.

Here is how the professional liars, the professional deceivers, the professional frauds manipulate billions of fools:

They bill themselves as a "data driven services" company that specializes in "data integration" and "audience segmentation" delivering "psychographic analysis" to drive targeted advertising campaigns or profile and influence potential voters. Or, in the significantly less buzzword-laden language of their company mission statement:

"To deliver Data-Driven Behavioral Change by understanding what motivates the individual and engaging with target audiences in ways that move them to action."

No, that's not a typo, that's a selling point. The firm uses the slogan "Data driven behavior change" in their online promotional videos and offers the image of balls being directed down an inclined plane to illustrate how they can shape people's behaviors along predetermined paths using data and marketing.

In brief, these frauds defraud the billions of naive users to get their private data (often without the victims knowing or properly understanding it) and then use what they know about the privacies of billions to manipulate, deceive and defraud them by advertise- ments that they give "in reward" for the data they steal and abuse.

Also, these are not the only kind of frauds: There also are the secret services (of very many countries) that in the last 16 years of their almost completely secret activities certainly had the chance to download everything about anyone (simply by tapping the cables) and make dossiers on everyone, and this is what they seem to have done.

And they also take great pride in their abilities to Deny / Disrupt / Degrade and Deceive any user of the internet through what they secretively know. This is from the British GCHQ, and was found by Edward Snowden:


Here is the conclusion James Corbett draws:

Think of Big Data as a malevolent technocratic Santa Claus: it sees you when you're sleeping, it knows when you're awake, it knows if you've been bad or good (even in advance!), so be good for goodness sake!

Actually, it's worse than that. It doesn't even matter if you're trying to be good (or bad) for whatever sake; the social engineers are now honing their ability to make you want to buy things, do things, vote for or against certain candidates, and otherwise shape your daily thoughts and actions, without your knowledge or consent, by appealing to your individual psychological profile. And instead of running in the other direction, people are in a mad scramble to put even more intrusive data-collection devices in their homes to scoop up every last drop of information about their lives and send it off to corporations they often don't even know exist.

The real boys and girls are uploading their lives to facebook and Twitter and Snapchat and Alexa and every other Big Data collection front. And in the process, they are giving the Big Data puppeteers the strings with which they will be pulled around like so many marionettes.

It's a real question whether there is any way short of living in a cabin in the woods to avoid being scooped up in the Big Data dragnet. But the more fundamental question is whether the real boys and girls will ever realize, or even care, that they are slowly becoming Pinocchio.

Yes, I quite agree, except (perhaps) on two things: I think it is extremely disappointing that the many (95% of the billions on internet) fall for Facebook's (and quite a few others') stealing of their private data, and I am also convinced that if this succeeds (which is unknown at present) the many billions will become the effective toys, tools, slaves, and suckers of the very rich and their 5 to 10% eager - rich - collaborators.

And this is a recommended article: This is the most likely outcome of the futures the very rich are preparing for themselves and the non-rich, for with almost total access to everyone's private information, they will be able to control or disrupt anyone.

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