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Nederlog

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Crisis: Trumpism+GUT, Spying Plants, Lying, SLAPPs, The Long Game

Sections                                                     crisis index
Introduction

1. Summary
2.
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from December 10, 2017
Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Sunday
, December 10, 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 and since two years (!!!!) 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.

Section 2. Crisis Files

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

A. Selections from December 10, 2017
1. Resisting Trumpism Requires a Grand Unifying Theory
2. The U.S. Military Is Bioengineering Plants to Be Spies
3. Trump-Led American Politics Is Swamped by Epidemic of
     Unprecedented Lying

4. Slapp Lawsuits: The Biggest Threat to the Resistance You Never
     Heard Of

5. The Republican Long Game
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. Resisting Trumpism Requires a Grand Unifying Theory

This article is by Sonali Kolhatkar on Truthdig. It starts as follows:

The past few weeks have been hellish for Americans. With one assault after another on our Constitution and our rights, it has felt like an endless stream of slaps to the face and punches to the gut.

From the decision by Federal Communications Commission Chair Ajit Pai to end net neutrality to the unconscionable late-night vote Friday by Senate Republicans on a tax reform bill that had amendments scribbled in by hand to Donald Trump’s unprecedented undoing of national monument designations in Utah to the Supreme Court’s Muslim ban-affirming order on Monday, it feels as though the entire nation is under attack all at once.

No amount of controversy around special prosecutor Robert Mueller’s charges, Trump’s apparent obstruction of justice or the subpoena of his personal finances appears to derail the momentum of the radical Republican agenda.

Well... I more or less agree (although it should have been "some Americans" or "many Americans" rather than "Americans"), and I add that there will probably be three more years of the same or worse. That is, if Trump does not decide to start a nuclear war. (Then all our problems will be completely solved, because we all will be quite dead.)

Then there is this, which seems utter nonsense to me:

It has been overwhelming, exhausting and traumatic. But that is because we are receiving each report in gut-wrenching isolation rather than as a single brick in a larger unified wall of injustice. Because there is little mainstream discussion of the broad outlines of the pro-corporate/ conservative agenda, we are responding piecemeal to the assaults by our elected representatives. That is our greatest weakness. What we need is a Grand Unified Theory of politics to fuel our resistance.

First (as often): Who are "we"? Who does isolate "us"? Who believes in a "mainstream discussion" if the mainstream media are mostly dedicated to propaganda and repress or hardly treat many issues that are deemed important by non-Republicans?

Second, I have no idea about the answers to the above questions, as I also have no idea how any person can react other than "responding piecemeal". Does the writer perhaps mean we need somebody screaming "NOOOOO!!!" or "NO TRUMP!!" from the Statue of Liberty for 24 hours a day?!

Again I really have no idea whatsoever. And in fact the same applies to:

What we need is a Grand Unified Theory of politics to fuel our resistance.

REALLY now? A "Grand Unified Theory"? "[O]f politics"? Like Christianity? Or Marxism? Or whatever? And what end would such a "Grand Unified Theory" have? Who would be able to share it, in a country where 2 out 3 people do not even know the three forms of government they have?

Why would it be needed? By whom would it be needed? (Besides "by us")? What form of "resistance" would it "fuel"? And how? How totalitarian would a "Grand Unified Theory" be? Could it be total enough to include everybody and anybody (who protests Trump)? What is the need for a "Grand Unified Theory" if almost everyone who is not rich is being plundered to pay the rich?

I am merely asking, but then there is - of course! - always particle physics:

Particle physicists have been in search of a Grand Unified Theory for years. But politics is easier than particle physics. If it isn’t immediately apparent what the GOP’s end goal was in passing a $1.5 trillion, deficit-causing, tax reform bill, it helps to step back and look at what the party’s overarching goal has been for decades: to undermine the power of government at every turn and make it subservient to corporations.

I'd say that politics is definitely less mathematical than physics. I wouldn't say it is "easier" than particle physics, if only because we are all made of particles, but that is an aside, while I also grant that most persons have intuitive understandings of other persons that makes some politics somewhat easier to comprehend than particle physics (for some, of course).

And in fact I agree with Sonali Kolhatkar about the end of the Republicans:

to undermine the power of government at every turn and make it subservient to corporations

In fact, I do have an analysis that agrees with this, which I call neofascism, which I define as follows:

Neofascism is a. A social system that is marked by a government with a centralized powerful authority, where the opposition is propagandized and suppressed or censored, that propounds an ethics which has profit as its main norm, and that has a politics that is rightwing, nationalistic, pro-capitalist, anti-liberal, anti-equality, and anti-leftist, and that has a corporative organization of the economy in which multi-national corporations are stronger than a national government or stateb. A political philosophy or movement based on or advocating such a social system.

But it seems as if that analysis - that I never proposed as A Grand Unified Theory - is too complicated for most, for I never received any reply on that.

Then there is this:

The Movement for Black Lives (MBL) recognized this when it released a broad platform last year demanding an “end to the war on black people,” at the same time calling for economic justice, community control and political power. In a sense, the organization was expressing a Grand Unified Theory by articulating demands that are seemingly disparate and unifying them into a single platform.

Well... I like the Movement for Black Lives. But I believe - I am sorry, but I learned 40 years ago in the "University" of Amsterdam that "everybody knows truth does not exist", where also a mere 95% of all of the students, lecturers and professors agreed with that, at least from 1971 till 1995 [2] - that I am white (as it is called), and I also believe - I am sorry, once again - that I am a male, while I am also sorry to say that I am quite intelligent, even though I learned nearly thirty years ago, when I was last accused of being "a fascist" in the "University" of Amsterdam because I believe(d) that intelligence is mostly innate: Not so, I was told, by a budding M.A. of psychology: Intelligence was only a choice, and she could just as well have been an Einstein - she also angrily assured me - except that she preferred dancing to physics and mathematics. (Historically true!! And this happened in 1989.)

And being white (I believe) I cannot also be black (I believe), just as being a male (I believe) excludes me from being a female (unless of course I want to be operated like Caitlin Jenner (or whatever he/she is called), which I do no not).

But since the Movement for Black Lives is assumed to have been "expressing a Grand Unified Theory", it may be a little complicated that I am neither black nor female (unless I am mistaken, of course).

Next, I agree that "[c]orporate elites are the problem", although I am less certain about the rest of the paragraph:

Corporate elites are the problem, no matter where they fall on the spectrum of social politics. The folks who claim, “I’m a social liberal but a fiscal conservative,” are a part of same problem as those who are social and fiscal conservatives.

Finally, we have arrived at the last bit that I'll quote, in which we do get a sort of flash of what Kolhatkar has in mind:

The Grand Unified Theory of politics is that there is a small group of wealthy, corporate elites who have taken political power by means of the massive wealth they have amassed, and their goal is to amass even more wealth. Through a corporate profit-making lens, there is no profit value in addressing racial and gender justice. There is no value in universal health care, quality education, higher wages or pristine air, water and land, because funding such goals leaves less money for the wealthy elites.

It seems as if she is saying this:
The Grand Unified Theory of politics is that there is a small group of wealthy, corporate elites who have taken political power by means of the massive wealth they have amassed, and their goal is to amass even more wealth.
I don't say no (but elites are always a small group, as indeed are the wealthy, so "small group" is a double pleonasm), although I'd also say that my theory of neofascism is a lot more detailed. Then again, it is also very probably far too complicated to be able to serve as a "Grand Unified Theory".

And I still - as a liberal - see no need for any
"Grand Unified Theory". Is the problem perhaps that I am too intelligent? O no, everybody is equally intelligent, I learned in the "University" of Amsterdam....

....in brief (seriously, at long last): Why all this posturing?


2. The U.S. Military Is Bioengineering Plants to Be Spies

This article is by Kali Holloway on AlterNet. It starts as follows:

The U.S. military is always looking for newer, better, stealthier spies. Its newest recruits in covert missions? Bioengineered plants.

The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency announced last month that it has launched the Advanced Plant Technologies program, a “synthetic biology” project that uses actual foliage as surveillance agents. The new program would genetically alter plants’ genetic code to sense and react to predetermined triggers and bioweapons. “DARPA’s vision for APT is to harness plants’ natural mechanisms for sensing and responding to environmental stimuli,” the agency notes in a press release, “and extend them to detect the presence of certain chemicals, pathogens, radiation, and even electromagnetic signals.”

I say. I do so because this is the first time I read this - and once again I am very glad to have been born in 1950 instead of 2000.

As to DARPA: These are the same state terrorists of the US (or Great Britain) that developed the fascist and terrorist instrument to spy on absolutely everybody that has the internet: DARPA-developed; DARPA-launched; in complete agreement with national security's Zbigniew Brezinski's statement of 1967 (!!!) [3] that (I quote):

Our society is leaving the phase of spontaneity and is entering a more self-conscious state; ceasing to be an industrial society, its is being shaped to an ever-increasing extent by technology and electronics,
      (...whence)
'it will soon be possible to assert almost continuous surveillance over every citizen and maintain  up-to-date, complete files, containing even personal information about the health and personal behaviour of the citizen, in addition to the more customary data.' Moreover it will be possible to anticipate and plan to meet any uprisings in the future. The police will even be able to forecast crises before the rioters themselves are conscious of wanting them.

All from 1967. And this is all precisely as has emerged since Edward Snowden published the evidence of extremely great amounts of spying on everyone with an internet connection.

And I add that I did like computers until I knew they are THE instrument to get everything that anyone thinks, values and desires to "the police" that "will even be able" (foreseen and planned in 1967!!) "to forecast crises before the rioters themselves are conscious of wanting them".

For they will know everything and anything about anyone who is not a billionaire.

Back to the article:

“Plants are highly attuned to their environments and naturally manifest physiological responses to basic stimuli such as light and temperature, but also in some cases to touch, chemicals, pests, and pathogens,” APT program manager Blake Bextine said in a statement. “Emerging molecular and modeling techniques may make it possible to reprogram these detection and reporting capabilities for a wide range of stimuli, which would not only open up new intelligence streams, but also reduce the personnel risks and costs associated with traditional sensors.”

So your geraniums may well make pornographic pictures of your sexual behavior (all for the internet spies of the NSA and GCD etc. etc. - as now, indeed), possibly with the help of nanotechnology:

This isn’t the first time greenery has been tasked with security duties. Last year, researchers at MIT announced they had “transformed spinach plants into sensors that can detect explosives and wirelessly relay that information to a handheld device similar to a smartphone.” Colorado State University biologist June Medford has developed plants that change colors to warn of airborne pollutants, toxins and explosives. Another DARPA project Medford leads aims to someday replace airport security checkpoints with gardens full of genetically manipulated plants that can detect drugs and bombs.

They are not quite as far, but they soon will be:

If you don't use your internet computer, your refrigerator will spy on you; if you switch that off, your geraniums will spy on your every movement, action, desire, value, and thought, and they better be as your government desires them to be or you will disappear; and if you don't have geraniums some of the very small flies you hardly can see will be microprocessors that can see and hear everything you do anywhere...

That is the future as it is planned by the NSA, Facebook, Google, Amazon, and God knows how many secret services that already know everything they want to know.

It is pure neofascistic terrorism of almost everyone, and I am very glad I was born in 1950, and was able to live not spied upon till I was 46 years old (and connected my computer to the neofascistic terrorists' dream that is the internet in 1996).


3. Trump-Led American Politics Is Swamped by Epidemic of Unprecedented Lying

This article is by Steven Rosenfeld on AlterNet. It starts as follows:

Americans are drowning in a sea of political lies. But depending on their politics, they don’t notice or they don’t care, and if they do care there’s little anyone can do about it.

Yes indeed. I am also curious about percentages, which Rosenfeld does not give, and I don't really know, but in view of what I do know my own guess is that the Americans who "don’t notice or (..) don’t care" are - probably - at least 3 out of 4.

Here is how it works in practice:

Of the 71 percent of Alabama Republicans who don’t believe Moore’s accusers, that poll from CBS News and YouGov found “92 percent of those who said they do not believe the allegations say it is because Democrats are to blame for them, while 88 percent said the media was,” Time said. So blaming political opponents and messengers augments falling for expedient lies.

That is: If I disagree with you, then you are a liar. Whoever you are and however much you know about the subject you are judging: Millions or billions of anonymous folks may tell you that you are a liar (if they are polite) - and most of them are on Facebook.

Then there is this:

So not only is there a tidal wave of lies swamping the nation’s political shores, there’s more political froth dampening any truth-telling, especially if it stands in the way of politically expedient goals. This slimy dynamic is increasingly dominating the political world under Trump, and it stands in stark contrast to other areas of public life where the law—yes, rules passed by the same people who traffic in lies—has made lying a crime.

Commercial advertising, for example, is not allowed to lie or mislead the public. Those who testify in court are not allowed to lie on the witness stand; that’s a crime. People being questioned by law enforcement are also not allowed to lie—they can assert the right to stay silent.
Well... I think people should be allowed to lie, and indeed everyone (who is not utterly insane or totally silent) lies now and then, indeed also for good (where "good" covers politeness and kindness) and for bad reasons (where "bad" covers egoism and greed), at least as I use these terms.

Then again, I agree "
there a tidal wave of lies" in the USA, next to an even larger wave op propaganda and advertisements, both of which likewise seek to influence those they reach by dishonest means.

Then there is this:
Meanwhile, mainstream media, including the most popular social media platforms—led by Facebook and Google (which includes Instagram and YouTube)—have launched an anti-fake news crusade. They are fine-tuning their algorithms to grade media content, using brain-imitating artificial intelligence to grade content and act as the censor that the government isn’t allowed to be. Three weeks ago, Facebook added a “trust indicator” feature to its newsfeed, “to give people additional context on the articles they see.”

But, of course, Facebook is a giant capitalist corporation in a capitalist society. So its partnership with the biggest mainstream media organizations, leading advertising groups and Silicon Valley platforms, is an emerging and self-reinforcing bubble and all of the participants have more concealed motives.
Yes indeed - and if you trust Facebook or Goohle or Instagram of Youtube or quite a few more of the big corporations who are spying on you, I personally think you must be at least a little mad.

Besides, if the governments can spy on absolutely everyone, and they can, they can also, and objectively, legally and controllably check the internet for lies. But they don't, and they don't because they do not want to.
“Most of us use the internet acronym LOL to mean ‘laugh out loud,’” James Cusick, the political correspondent for the UK-based Independent and The Independent on Sunday wrote in 2015. “But in U.S. political circles, where campaign strategists are supposed to have superpowers, it stands for ‘lie or lose’—the public doesn’t like the truth, and those who flirt with telling it don’t stand a chance.”
If indeed you must ‘lie or lose’, then you might as well shut up.

Then again, what Cusick apparently did not say is that (i) there still are at least 25% of the people who are interested in the truth (I guess, but with some evidence), and (ii) those who really take important decisions always are a very small group, while also (not relevant here and now, but true) (iii) all revolutions, both the few successful and the many unsuccessful, are made by relatively small groups of persons.

Here is more by Cusick:
“There is no such thing as an outright political lie,” he wrote. “Instead there’s distortion, exaggeration, misrepresentation, deception, half-truth and overstatement. The assumption is that the risk is worth it. Hubris and narcissism mean the consequences of a politician getting caught are outweighed—they think—by the benefits of telling voters what they want to hear. They know we seek support for our preconceived notions, and avoid information that challenges established views.”

The beginning does not consider the gross liar Donald Trump, I take it because this was written before Trump's rise to eminence. But the rest seems quite true to me, while I also insist that "distortion, exaggeration, misrepresentation, deception, half-truth and overstatement" are all very well-known and very widely used propaganda.

But this is a recommended article.


4. Slapp Lawsuits: The Biggest Threat to the Resistance You Never Heard Of

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

Have you heard of SLAPP lawsuits? You soon will.

Actually, I have. I think it was in 2010, and it was in the context of ME/CFS, but I admit I don't recall much, although I did already know what Reich says:

SLAPP stands for “Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation.” It is a lawsuit brought by big corporations intended to censor, intimidate, and silence critics by burdening them with the overwhelming costs of a legal defense until they’re forced to abandon their criticism or opposition. And it may be the biggest threat to the resistance you’ve never heard of. 

Yes indeed, and especially because most political activists (in some sense) are private persons, who themselves often have little money.

Here is some more:

The suit wasn’t designed to win in court. It was designed to distract and silence critics. This is punishment for speaking out.

Yes indeed. Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:

Connect the dots, and consider the chilling effect SLAPP suits are having on any group seeking to protect public health, worker’s rights, and even our democracy.
(...)
If the goal is to silence public-interest groups, the rest of us must speak out. Wealthy corporations must know  they can’t SLAPP the public into silence.

I agree, and I add (again) that "[w]ealthy corporations" have far more money than almost any private individual, for which reasons they probably can SLAPP almost everyone.

But this is a recommended article, for it explains some of the risks you run opposing the rich corporations.


5. The Republican Long Game

This article is by Neil Gabler on Common Dreams and originally on BillMoyers.com. It starts as follows:

It isn’t easy watching the country you love fall down a black hole from which it is not likely to emerge, but that is precisely what happened this past week with the Senate passage of the so-called “tax reform” bill. Bernie Sanders spoke for many when he said it will “go down in history as one of the worst, most unfair pieces of legislation ever passed.”

To which I’d add, not only the worst legislation, but also the most radically transformative passed in our lifetimes. The bill seems to have something to hurt every American, except for the wealthy.
(...)
Speaking of the health care provisions alone, former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers predicted millions would die.
I agree with everything said here, except that I also assume that Bernie Sanders spoke imprecisely: Clearly, "in history" there have been even worse laws, though I agree he was probably talking about the last sixty years or so of US history.

Here is more:
In fact, for all the haphazardness, the tax reform measures passed by the House and Senate, which must be reconciled in conference before final passage, achieve a deliberate and much-cherished GOP goal that supersedes short-term victory. Republicans have long dreamed of destroying the social safety net once and for all. This is the bill that finally threatens to accomplish their plan.
Yes indeed. And here is more on the New Deal:

The New Deal, which created that safety net, arose in the Great Depression precisely because the free markets that Republicans insist to this day are the answer to every problem failed Americans miserably. Government was needed to bail them out then and to protect them in the future.

New Dealism was a set of programs—Social Security, public works, fair labor laws, conservation and dozens more—but it was also an attitude about government and the role it could and should play, from actively helping citizens in distress to equalizing an unfair tax structure.

The proof of its success is that Republicans didn’t dare revoke it when they came back to power. Frankly, they couldn’t, because New Dealism was too popular for them to do so. Dwight Eisenhower didn’t even reduce the highest marginal tax rate of the 1950s, which sat at 91 percent. And believe it or not, no one outside of right-wing extremists called him a socialist.

Yes indeed: This is all quite true. Here is the last bit that I'll quote from this article:

That is the basic point. The object of tax reform is to create a gigantic deficit to justify ending the New Deal.

The time will come, and it is not far off, when every New Deal and Great Society program will be on the chopping block. And when they are, Republicans will start their deficit hawk mating call again. And because the deficit will have swelled so much, programs will be slashed. They won’t just nibble away at the edges. They will try to kill the whole thing.

Democrats will protest. They may even be in power. But if they are, they will be handed an untenable situation, having to choose between deficits and programs. In effect, Democrats are being set up. You can already hear Republicans saying we can’t afford Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps or even Social Security. It is government as cruelty.

Yes indeed, I agree. And I add that I also do not believe in the Democrats as long as they are paid by the big banks, as they are.

And this is a recommended article.

------------------------------
Notes

[1] I have now been saying since the end of 2015 that xs4all.nl 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 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 (!!).


[2]
I know, simply because between 1971 and 1996 all Dutch universities were formally in the hands of the students, because from 1971 till 1996 a parliamentary system was at work, legally, that required the votes of everyone who studied in or worked for any university; that was based on a central parliament (as in the Dutch state) which controlled everything, together with a Board of Directors (3 persons), with many parliaments for each of the existing faculties (like city councils in the Dutch state), and all based on the principle that 1 (wo)man (professor, lecturer, student, secretary, toilet cleaner) = 1 vote.

This gave the power formally to the students, for these were in great majority in the universities.

Also, the fascist lie (according to Hannah Arendt)
"Everybody knows that truth does NOT exist"
was put forward in the public opening of the "University" of Amsterdam as its public ideology in August of 1978, and this was in fact kept up through the communist years, from 1977-1984, and the post- modernist years, from 1985-1995.

[3] For the source of Brzezinski's quote see here. I think myself this is excellent evidence that the internet was and is designed to spy on absolutely everyone, and  was meant to do so from 1967 onwards, till today, that is for 50 years at present.

Brzezinski's quote can mean nothing else. (It is difficult to find because it is from a book by Stephen Spender from 1969, but the book ought to be available - so far, at least - from good university libraries.)
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