Saturday, July 22, 2017

Crisis: Trump, US "Justice", Israel & USA, Pentagon Propaganda, Deregulations, The Hippies (1967)

Sections                                                                     crisis index

1. Summary
2. Crisis Files
    A. Selections from July 22, 2017 


This is a Nederlog of Saturday, July 22, 2017.

1. Summary

This is a crisis log but it is a bit different from how it was the last four years:

I have been writing about the crisis since September 1, 2008 (in Dutch) and about the enormous dangers of surveillance (by secret services and by many rich commercial entities) since June 10, 2013, and I probably will continue with it, but on the moment I have several problems with the company that is supposed to take care that my site is visible and with my health.

As I explained, the crisis files will have a different format from July 1, 2017: I will now list the items I selected as I did before (title + link) but I add one selection from the selected item to give my readers a bit of a taste of the item linked.

So the new format is as follows:

      Link to an item with its orginal title, followed by
      One selection from that item (indented)
      Possibly followed by a brief comment by me (not indented).

This is illustrated below, in selections A.

2. Crisis Files

These are six crisis files that are all well worth reading:

A. Selections from July 22, 2017

The items 1 - 6 are today's selections from the 35 sites that I look at every morning. The indented text under each link is quoted from the link that starts the item. Unindented text is by me:

1. Trump Is Reported to Be Discussing Possibility of Pardoning Himself, Relatives or Aides

This is by Emily Wells on Truthdig. It starts as follows:

Just when you think Donald Trump’s presidency can’t get any stranger, it does.

After the partial transcript of his odd interview with The New York Times was released Wednesday, The Washington Post reported that Trump is discussing with lawyers the possibility of pardoning himself, his family and close aides in order to undercut special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into allegations that the Trump presidential campaign colluded with Russia to influence the 2016 election—an investigation that Trump has long called “a witch hunt.”

In the Times interview, Trump says he believes Mueller would be going too far with the investigation if he looked into the Trump family’s personal finances:

[MICHAEL S.] SCHMIDT: Last thing, if Mueller was looking at your finances and your family finances, unrelated to Russia — is that a red line?

[MAGGIE] HABERMAN: Would that be a breach of what his actual charge is?

TRUMP: I would say yeah. I would say yes.

I say! Well... I have also said, nine months ago meanwhile, that Donald Trump is an extremely dangerous megalomaniac and an evident neofascist (in my sense, which you get by clicking the last link).

And I think so far he has been implementing his insanity and his neofascism quite succesfully.

There is also this, which seems to strongly consist that "the law" in the USA is an utter mess:

If Trump does choose to pardon family members or aides, shielding them from potential prosecution, it would raise a plethora of legal questions. According to the Post:

Currently, the discussions of pardoning authority by Trump’s legal team are purely theoretical, according to two people familiar with the ongoing conversations. But if Trump pardoned himself in the face of the ongoing Mueller investigation, it would set off a legal and political firestorm, first around the question of whether a president can use the constitutional pardon power in that way.

“This is a fiercely debated but unresolved legal question,” said Brian C. Kalt, a constitutional law expert at Michigan State University who has written extensively on the question.

If Trump pardons family members and close aides to cover up possible crimes, the action could be seen as acting “corruptly” according to federal obstruction statutes, and he could be charged with obstruction of justice.

Clearly, I would say, any man who can pardon himself or his family members is a dictator, and not a leader of something that has anything to do with a real democracy.

And this is a recommended article.

2. Justice Department’s Demand for Extreme Secrecy in Reality Winner Trial Contested by Defense

This is by Trevor Timm on The Intercept. It starts as follows:
The Justice Department is seeking to impose extreme secrecy rules in the trial of alleged Intercept source and whistleblower Reality Winner that could prevent her defense team from citing countless publicly available news articles in appearances before the court — and even prevent Winner herself from seeing evidence relevant to her defense.
Winner was accused last month of leaking a classified National Security Agency document to The Intercept that describes attempts by alleged Russian hackers to gain access to election infrastructure in the United States. She faces charges under the Espionage Act, a 100-year-old law meant for spies and saboteurs, which the government has warped into an anti-leaking statute used to go after sources of journalists attempting to inform the American public. Winner’s trial is set for the end of October.
This is another example of the neofascism (my sense) that Trump seeks to impose on the USA: It seeks to make the defense of anybody who did anything against the American government factually impossible.

Here is how:

A protective order surrounding discovery material, by itself, is fairly standard procedure. However, the government is going a step further: They are arguing that the defense would be barred from discussing any information that has appeared in the Washington Post, the New York Times, or any other newspaper if the defense “knows or have reason to know” any of that information is also contained in classified discovery documents they will receive.

The protective order would restrict “our right to cite and quote information in the public domain, such as articles in newspapers, broadcast journalism and online publications,” the defense wrote in their brief. “The order proposed by the Government imposes upon Defense Counsel the duty to question the source of reports in the New York Times or matters discussed on Morning Joe and then to confer with the security officer before repeating or citing these facts even though the information is clearly in the public domain.”

As I said, this is simply neofascism-in-"law".

3. Criminalizing Critics of Israel: Congress Considers Sweeping Bills to Fine & Jail Backers of BDS

This is by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! It starts with the following introduction:

U.S. lawmakers are seeking to criminally outlaw support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign against Israel. If a proposed bipartisan law is passed, backers of BDS could face up to 20 years in prison and a million-dollar fine. We speak to Rabbi Joseph Berman of Jewish Voice for Peace and Ryan Grim of The Intercept. His latest article is titled "U.S. Lawmakers Seek to Criminally Outlaw Support for Boycott Campaign Against Israel."

As I have pointed out, not even murderers get a punishment of 20 years imprisonment in Dutch law, whereas in Norway twenty years imprisonment is the maximum punishment that can be imposed even on a mass murderer.

In the present USA you may soon risk 20 years of imprisonment plus a million dollar fine if you say you dislike Netanyahu.

This is pure totalitarianism.

After the above introduction, the article + interview starts as follows:

AMY GOODMAN: Civil rights groups are warning a pair of bipartisan bills targeting boycotts of Israel and Israeli settlements would criminalize free speech and peaceful protest. The Israel Anti-Boycott Act would make it a felony for U.S. citizens to support boycotts of Israel and Israeli settlements, punishable by at least a $250,000 fine, with a maximum penalty of a fine of $1 million and 20 years in prison. So far, 46 senators—31 Republican, 15 Democrat—and 234 congressmembers, from both sides of the aisle, support the legislation. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee, known as AIPAC, reportedly helped craft the bill and has made its passage one of the group’s top lobbying priorities for the year.

In a letter Monday, the American Civil Liberties Union, or ACLU, urged senators to oppose the bill’s passage. The ACLU wrote, quote, "We take no position for or against the effort to boycott Israel or any foreign country, for that matter. However, we do assert that the government cannot, consistent with the First Amendment, punish U.S. persons based solely on their expressed political beliefs," unquote.

The bill has received backing from many prominent senators on both sides of the aisle. Democrats backing the bill include Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, both of New York, as well as Ron Wyden of Oregon, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Maria Cantwell of Washington. Republican backers include Ted Cruz of Texas, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Marco Rubio of Florida.

I say! Well... out go Chuck Schumer and Ron Wyden: As totalitarian as Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. (And no, I will not forget this.)

There is considerably more in the interview, that is recommended.

4. Pentagon Study Declares American Empire Is 'Collapsing'

This article is by Nafeed Ahmed on AlterNet. It starts as follows:

An extraordinary new Pentagon study has concluded that the US-backed framework of international order established after World War II is “fraying” and may even be “collapsing,” leading the United States to lose its position of “primacy” in world affairs.

The solution proposed to protect US power in this new “post-primacy” environment is, however, more of the same: more surveillance, more propaganda (“strategic manipulation of perceptions”) and more military expansionism.

The document concludes that the world has entered a fundamentally new phase of transformation in which US power is in decline, international order is unravelling, and the authority of governments everywhere is crumbling.

Having lost its past status of “pre-eminence,” the US now inhabits a dangerous, unpredictable “post-primacy” world, whose defining feature is “resistance to authority.”

Danger comes not just from great power rivals like Russia and China, both portrayed as rapidly growing threats to American interests, but also from the increasing risk of “Arab Spring”-style events. These will erupt not just in the Middle East, but all over the world, potentially undermining trust in incumbent governments for the foreseeable future.

The report, based on a year-long intensive research process involving consultation with key agencies across the Department of Defense and US Army, calls for the US government to invest in more surveillance, better propaganda through “strategic manipulation” of public opinion, and a “wider and more flexible” US military.

In fact, this shows that all control on whether the Pentagon propagandizes itself or whether it's pronouncements have any factual basis (outside their enormous hunger for ever more money) is totally gone: This is pure propaganda for the crazy desires of the Pentagon's generals, in my opinion.

There is a lot more in the article, that is recommended.

5. Red Alert: Team Trump Unveils Anti-Planet, Anti-Worker Corporate Wish List

This is by Jake Johnson on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:
Amid swirling controversy over the burgeoning investigation into President Donald Trump's alleged Russia ties, groups are raising the alarm after the Trump administration on Thursday quietly unveiled its plan to roll back hundreds of Obama-era regulations aimed at shielding workers and the planet from corporate abuse.

The more than 800 planned and existing regulations the White House is set to scrap "govern everything—from the basics of everyday living, such as a product safety standard for mattresses' flammability when it comes to cigarettes, to what sort of precautions construction firms should be required to take so their workers are not run over by other vehicles on site," the Washington Post summarized.


Trump's deregulatory agenda "shows yet again that even though the president said he'd put working people first, his administration is acting

to elevate corporate and financial industry interests, boosting corporate profits and enriching corporate insiders," Owens concluded. "Working people are last, not first, as the president initially promised—an especially cruel irony during the administration's so-called 'Made in America Week.'"

In addition to slashing protections for workers and the environment, the Trump administration's agenda also appears to kill an Obama-era effort

to limit the pay of Wall Street executives.

This is the n-th deregulation that have now been happening since 1980. As I said (and will be saying) the deregulations gave most of the power and most of money to the very few rich, while the very few rich have been busy since Reagan of breaking down Keynesianism and reinstituting the exploitative capitalism of the 1890ies, with the differences that the very rich meanwhile have killed the trade unions, the workers' movements, and the idea of socialism.

6. Whatever became of the summer of love?

This is a review by Mick Brown, of a book by Daniel Goldberg that I have discussed before, here and here. This is from the beginning:
By then [the summer of 1967 - MM] the Haight, as the district was known, was to all intents and purposes finished. Hippies had been the subject of a cover story in Time magazine, and the Haight was fast being populated by teenage runaways, panhandlers, drug dealers and assorted charlatans, a human zoo for gawping tourists in Gray Line buses, pausing only to buy ‘Love Burgers’ from an enterprising merchant.

The summer of love was giving way to the winter of exploitation. In October 1967, a group of community ‘elders’ organised a mock funeral procession through the Haight to mark the passing of ‘Hippie, devoted son of the media’, suggesting that from now on the acceptable term would be ‘free men’. It would never catch on.

San Francisco, flowers in your hair, free love — it all seems as remote and unreal as a fever-dream.

Danny Goldberg was a teenager in the 1960s, growing up in New York in a liberal Jewish family. He was exposed to drugs and student radicalism, became a rock journalist, then a record executive and the manager of Nirvana. Old enough to have savoured 1967 without fully digesting it, he has written a book that sits halfway between social history and memoir.

I don't think Mick Brown has lived through the Sixties, although I don't know that. He certainly is less sympathetic to the summer of lover or to its ideas and values than Goldberg is.

There is also this:

In October 1966, the American government outlawed LSD. Three months later, in January 1967, more than 30,000 people gathered in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park to protest against the new law at the first ‘Human Be-In’, or ‘Gathering of the Tribes’, as it was called: the tribes, in this case, being hippies from the Haight, anti-war radicals from across the Bay in Berkeley, unreconstructed Beats from an earlier generation, Hells Angels, assorted free-thinkers and oddballs and the Diggers — an anarchist group, named after the 17th- century English radicals, who advocated the abolition of money and pioneered free food programmes on the Haight. It was at this gathering that Timothy Leary uttered what would become the mantra of the movement — ‘turn on, tune in, drop out’.

I think I agree with Emmett Grogan - see his Ringolevi - that Timothy Leary was a fraud, and indeed I thought so by 1967 or 1968.

As to the Diggers, I wrote about them here and here, and will do so again (although I have to add that I disagree with their taking hard drugs, which I never did, which I think they should have avoided, and which makes my likings of them considerably less).

Here is the last bit that I'll quote from this article:

What Goldberg’s book vividly illustrates is that there was much that was foolish, misguided and naive about the hippy movement (the origin of the hippy folk myth that smoking bananas would get you high is chronicled here in exacting and hilarious detail). But there was also much that was innocent, and pure, borne of what Goldberg calls ‘communal sweetness’. And what makes this book ultimately beguiling is its absence of cynicism, and Goldberg’s touching faith in the original hippy idea.

I don't think I share much with Mick Brown, but this may be more or less correct.


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