Sunday, October 1, 2017

Crisis: Republican Con-men, Pentagon 1967, On ¨Russia-gate¨, On Trump, Walker Evans

Sections                                                                     crisis index

1. Summary
Crisis Files
    A. Selections from October 1, 2017 


This is a Nederlog of Sunday, October 1, 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 will continue with it.

On the moment I have problems with the company that is supposed to take care that my site is visible [1] and with my health, but I am still writing a Nederlog every day and will continue.

2. Crisis Files

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

A. Selections from October 1, 2017

The items 1 - 5 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. How the Republican Party Has Conned America for Over 30 Years

This article is by Thom Hartmann on AlterNet. It starts as follows:

The Republican Party has been running a long con on the American people, and Trump’s new tax cut proposals are just the latest iteration on it. This con involves getting Democrats to shoot Santa Claus (Clinton cutting welfare/Obama proposing the chained CPI cut to Social Security) and using tax policy to put a jolly old Saint Nick outfit on the Republicans. 

As Bruce Bartlett – one of the architects and major salespeople for Reagan’s tax cuts in the ‘80s – wrote in USA Today this week: “Virtually everything Republicans say about taxes today is a lie. Tax cuts and tax rate reductions will not pay for themselves; they never have. Republicans don’t even believe they will, they are just excuses to slash spending for the poor when revenues collapse and deficits rise. There is no evidence that tax reform raises growth, although it may improve fairness and tax administration.” 

So how do Republicans get away with this lie, and why does the press let them get away with it? It’s a fascinating story.

There is much more that I leave to your interests. But I do load one more bit of it, simply because it is true:

Dwight D. Eisenhower, had been quite happy with a top income tax rate on multimillionaires of 91 percent. As he explained to his right-wing brother Edgar Eisenhower in a personal letter on November 8, 1954:

"[T]o attain any success it is quite clear that the Federal government cannot avoid or escape responsibilities which the mass of the people firmly believe should be undertaken by it. The political processes of our country are such that if a rule of reason is not applied in this effort, we will lose everything--even to a possible and drastic change in the Constitution. This is what I mean by my constant insistence upon 'moderation' in government.

"Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things.
Quite so - although it seems the present GOP is mostly composed from persons that were in the Fifties ¨a tiny splinter group¨. And this is a recommended article.

2. When We Marched on the Pentagon

This article is by Bill Zimmerman on Truthdig. It is about the something that happened 50 years ago, but it is here because I think it is still somewhat important and also because I recall some of it (for I was much interested in politics in the Sixties, and I was 17 in 1967).

It starts as follows:

When Brooklyn College anti-war leaders asked me to help recruit students for the Oct. 21, 1967, “March on the Pentagon,” I agreed. At 26, I was the youngest member of the faculty, fresh from graduate school, where I had been protesting the war in Vietnam for three years.

Chartered buses carried some 300 of us to Washington, D.C. Aboard were other experienced activists, but most of those present were going to their first protest. During the four-hour drive from New York, we staged a mobile teach-in, describing the history of the war and explaining how to handle arrests. Since the march had been denied a permit, it was illegal, and local authorities had promised to keep us from reaching the Pentagon.

By then, many Americans had protested the war, but to no avail. The carnage in Vietnam was killing thousands, and nearly every day, television footage showed United States planes dropping bombs and napalm on tiny villages. Pro-war adversaries infuriated us with mindless slogans like “My Country, Right or Wrong.” But we were also impatient with our own side, fed up with protests that had no impact on policy. Hundreds had already burned their draft cards. Like them, we were ready to move from protest to resistance.

Actually, quite a number of protesters did reach the Pentagon, and here is a bit on the Wikipedia about the March on the Pentagon.

Here is more about the Pentagon (in 1967):

We marched toward what we saw as the enemy—never mind that our “enemy” was a respected American institution. To us, the Pentagon was the brain of an evil monster wantonly killing innocent people half a world away and shipping young Americans home in body bags and on wheelchairs. We burned with a desire to confront this enemy but had no real plan for what to do when we arrived at the building. Some wanted to stand in silent protest and defiance. Others were determined to ransack it. A few planned to deface its outer walls. The more whimsical spoke of “levitating” the building and “exorcising” the evil spirits inside.

Yes, indeed. And there is this on flower power (<- Wikipedia):

Three months before, reporters had described hippies at the “Summer of Love” in San Francisco as “flower children.” Seeing the new picture from the Pentagon, they talked of “flower power,” evoking the hippie/activist alliance opposed to the war. They used the term derisively, as though “flower” and “power” were inherently antithetical. But many of us embraced the phrase, since it symbolized freeing men from outdated norms of masculinity that emphasized control and domination. We did want to “make love, not war,” but we also wanted to use long hair and flowers to redefine manhood.

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

3. Russia-gate’s Shaky Foundation

This article is by Daniel Herman on Consortiumnews. It starts as follows:
Anyone who watches the news knows that Russian hackers gave Democratic National Committee documents to WikiLeaks and hacked voter databases in 21 states. Prominent Democrats call these shenanigans “a political Pearl Harbor.”

On the blog Daily Kos, one contributor cries “we were robbed!” (arguing that somehow Russian meddling gave Trump a victory in North Carolina, where his margin was 180,000, and where no evidence whatsoever indicates a successful hack of voter databases).

In a new video propamentary, er, docuganda, or something like that, Morgan Freeman declares “we have been attacked. We are at war. This is no movie script.”

Before we hop on the Morgan Freeman train, we might want to consider some history.
In fact, this is quite a long article, that does start here with rather a lot of - useful - history that I all leave to your interests. Then Herman arrives here:
With all that history in mind, we should be grateful that William Binney, the National Security Agency’s former technical director, is shouting with everything he can muster that the U.S. intelligence community has no solid evidence that Russians hacked the Democratic National Committee. The NSA, he says, would have a record of any overseas exfiltration and could release that data without danger to national security; yet the NSA hasn’t. Though Binney left the NSA 16 years ago, he should know: he created the powerful cyber-vacuum that the NSA still uses.

Binney’s organization, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS), has produced a report in which they argue that forensic evidence from documents produced by Guccifer 2.0 (G2) suggests — strongly — that G2 was a hoaxer. Skip Folden, a VIPS associate and a former elite tech executive with IBM, has issued his own report that buttresses the VIPS report. Adam Carter (a pseudonymous investigator) and Forensicator (another pseudonymous investigator) have also buttressed the VIPS Report, as have cybersecurity expert Jeffrey Carr and former U.N. weapons inspector Scott Ritter (Ritter disagrees with VIPS in part but not on the basic charge of insufficient evidence).
Quite so, and I believe Binney and the VIPS very much rather than the bland assurances-without-evidence that are the standard on the mainstream media.

Then there is considerably more text that I leave again to your interests, that is followed by this:

Thanks to our government’s push against so-called fake news, both Google and Facebook have already altered algorithms to such an extent that they have pushed down readership for one old and revered progressive venue, AlterNet, by fully 40 percent (other progressive venues have seen similar declines), thus starving them for ad revenue. Meanwhile neoconservative researchers are trumpeting inch-deep investigations into supposed Russian propagandizing that — thanks to vast funding — may get churned out for years to come.

Let’s not kid ourselves; this project isn’t about shutting down “fake news.” From the moment the Washington Post ran its infamous PropOrNot story in November 2016, the message has been clear: the real threat isn’t Russians, it’s any media outlet that fuels anti-establishment politics.

I think that Daniel Herman (a professor of history at the Central Washington University) is very probably quite right in that conclusion.

As I said, there is a lot more in this long article, which is recommended.

4. The Irrelevance of President Trump

This article is by Robert Reich on his site. It starts as follows:

Announcement: Donald Trump is no longer the president of the United States.

Oh sure, he has the title and he has the bully pulpit – from which he’s bullying everyone from NBA players to people protesting white supremacists to DACA kids.

But he’s not actively governing the United States. That work is happening elsewhere – in Congress, the courts, the Fed, the career civil service, lobbyists, and in the states. Or it’s not happening at all. 

It’s not just that Trump lost the epic battle to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. Trump never understood the Affordable Care Act to begin with, and played no part in developing Republican alternatives.

The budget Trump submitted to Congress in March was dead on arrival.
I don´t think it makes much sense to say that the sitting president of the USA is ¨no longer the president of the United States¨.

It is true that Reich does give some evidence that seems to show that both Trump and his government are considerably weaker than they themselves thinnk, but I learned a whole lot of logic, and the position with which Reich opens is simply contradictory.

There is also this:

Meanwhile, Trump has run out of Obama executive orders he can declare void. Major regulations, such as the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, can’t just be repealed. They have to go through a legal process that could take years.

Trump doesn’t seem to be aware of this. He told a cheering crowd in Alabama recently that he had ended the Clean Power Plan by executive order. “Did you see what I did to that? Boom, gone.”


I think Reich is correct about that point. There is also this, that outlines an argument of Reich that both Trump and his government are considerably weaker than they themselves think:

By the start of September, more than a third of the leadership positions at the Federal Emergency Management Agency were still vacant. Not a good way to begin hurricane season. Puerto Rico, anyone?

As of mid-September, out of 599 key government positions that require Senate confirmation, Trump had made only 159 nominations, according to The Washington Post. Trump had yet to submit nominations for 320 positions.

Trump’s political clout is waning among Republicans.
Perhaps. Then again, even if he is, he is still the president, and the Republicans are very much more likely to support Trump than the Democratic Party.

This is the last bit that I quote from this article:

Don’t get me wrong. Trump is still a dangerous showman and conman – tweeting condemnations of critics and ranting before friendly crowds at his never-ending campaign rallies. He continues to fuel bigotry and meanness. He has reduced America’s standing in the world. His outbursts could start a nuclear war.

But when it comes to the actual work of governing America, Trump is becoming utterly and completely irrelevant.

Hm. I wish Reich was more consistent in how he judges Trump (for he has said quite a few different things), and while I like Reich mostly, I think he may well be indulging in some wishful thinking in this article. And Trump is still president, unfortunately.

5. Walker Evans’ Photos Make Everyday America a Sight to See

This article is by Mark Murrmann on Mother Jones. It starts as follows:
Throughout the retrospective for photographer Walker Evans at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the 400 photos and pieces of art radiate with a warm sense of familiarity. Visitors may recognize specific, iconic images, but the feeling also comes from Evans’ fixation on the American vernacular, a driving theme in the organization of this show. The two full galleries that make up the exhibit create the sense that one is stepping into a well-curated time-capsule of a faded but still thoroughly recognizable America.
I am reviewing this article - that in the original has many worthwile pictures by Walker Evans - mostly because of Walker Evans, James Agee, and their book from the 1930ies Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, that I myself bought in the Seventies.

Here is some on Agee and
Let Us Now Praise Famous Men:
He was also a documentarian and a photographer for Fortune magazine. In 1936, he and writer James Agee went to Alabama to document the life of tenant farmers during the Dust Bowl, a project that became the landmark book Let Us Now Praise Famous Men. The mix of reportage and portraiture by Evans, combined with Agee’s writing, set the tone for what the entire documentary genre could and should be.
And this is a recommended article, and indeed Let Us Now Praise Famous Men is a recommended book.


[1] I have now been saying since the end of 2015 that is systematically ruining my site by NOT updating it within a few seconds, as it did between 1996 and 2015, but by updating it between two to seven days later, that is, if I am lucky.

They have claimed that my site was wrongly named in html: A lie. They have claimed that my operating system was out of date: A lie.

And they just don't care for my site, my interests, my values or my ideas. They have behaved now for 1 1/2 years as if they are the eagerly willing instruments of the US's secret services, which I will from now on suppose they are (for truth is dead in Holland).

The only two reasons I remain with xs4all is that my site has been there since 1996, and I have no reasons whatsoever to suppose that any other Dutch provider is any better (!!).
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