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Nederlog

January 2, 2018

Crisis: Visionless Society, Duty To Warn, Fake News, Russia & Trump, "Russia-gate" (2018)


Sections
Introduction   

1. Summary
2.
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from January 2, 2018.

Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Tuesday, January 2, 2018.

1. Summary

This is a
crisis log but it is a bit different from how it was the last five 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 more than 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 I shall continue.

Section 2. Crisis Files

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

A. Selections from January 2, 2018

These are five crisis files that are all well worth reading:
1. The Visionless Society
2. Duty to Warn: Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess the
     “Dangerous Case” of President Trump

3. The CIA's 60-Year History of Fake News
4. 'Out of Control' Trump's Lawyers Are Lying to Him about the Russia
     Investigation

5. The Still-Missing Evidence of Russia-gate
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. The Visionless Society

This article is by Chris Hedges on Truthdig. It starts as follows:

Imagine yourself in early 2019. The Democrats, despite never articulating a political vision other than not being Donald Trump and refusing to roll back Republican legislation such as the 2017 tax bill, have regained the House of Representatives by a slim majority. They vote articles of impeachment. The Senate Republicans, pressured by many within their own party to abandon Trump because of his ineptitude, increasingly erratic behavior and corruption, call on the president to resign. Trump refuses. He uses the megaphone of his office to incite violence by his small, fanatic base. The military, whose deployment as a domestic police force is authorized by Section 1021 of the National Defense Authorization Act, is called into the streets to quell unrest. The United States, by the time the violence is snuffed out, is a de facto military dictatorship.

That such a scenario is plausible to public figures such as Ralph Nader is a sign of the deep decay of democratic institutions.
Yes indeed: I quite agree with Hedges that this may happen and I also share his interest in and admiration for Ralph Nader, who gets quoted quite a lot in this article.

Before coming to that, here is Hedges' sketch of the Democrats and the Republicans:
The two major political parties lack a coherent vision. They are subservient to corporate power. They have abandoned the common good. They have turned politics into burlesque. They have rendered the citizenry impotent. The press, especially the electronic press, has transformed news into a grotesque reality show filled with trivia, gossip and conjecture. The elites in both parties, along with the rich and corporations, profit from a naked kleptocracy. Everything is for sale, from public lands to public education. And the juggernaut of corporate power impoverishes the people as it willfully destroys the facade of the hollowed-out democratic state.
I basically agree, although I probably disagree with the very first statement:

The Republicans seem to be mostly for stealing from the taxes and destroying much of the government, while the Democrats are clearly massively corrupted by payments from - especially - the banks.

And in fact I see no problem in assuming that with sufficient money, which the rich backers of the Republicans do have, you can corrupt the six or sevenhundred "elected representatives of the people" (or however they style themselves). And I believe this is what has happened, although I am quite willing to agree that the real story is more complicated than it is in this Nederlog.

Here is the first of several quotes from Ralph Nader:

“Can there be a democracy when you don’t have a competitive electoral system?” he asked. “No. Can there be a democracy when people who come in second win the election? No. Can there be a democracy when it’s tougher to get on the ballot than in any other Western country in the world by an order of magnitude? No. Can there be a democracy when money rules? And not just the money that politicians raise, but the third-party money. No. Can there be a democracy when people have no influence on the military budget? No. It’s not subjected to hearings. It’s ratified on the floor of the House and Senate, but it doesn’t go through the appropriations process. It’s subject to the most anemic, pathetic, servile questioning you can imagine."
I agree, and indeed less with each particular point as with the sum of all: Perhaps something like democracy might - still - be possible when one or two of these points are broken, but indeed not if all are broken. As is the case.

Here is more by Nader, this time on the Democrats:
House Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Nader noted, has adopted the mantra “money, message, and mobilization” for the party. “If you start with money, what kind of a message are you going to have?” he asked. “If you don’t have a message, what are you going to mobilize around? So here it is. They still haven’t learned because they will never learn. The party will always be weak, flabby, indentured and dialing for the same commercial dollars as long as the four-time losers continue to run the party. … The country is spinning into the abyss.”
Yes, I agree again, although I may be a bit more cynical than Nader is: I would not be amazed if the present leaders of the Democrats - Pelosi and Clinton, more specifically - had decided that money is the message, simply because they have been enriching themselves personally, while few protested. (But this is no proof, which will be difficult.)

Here is more Nader quoted:
"A handful of corporate, greedy bosses controlling your government on this national stage and local level, gouging out whole communities, sending industries to fascist communist regimes abroad. They have no loyalties to this country. They have no allegiance to communities other than to exploit them, abandon them. They rose to power on the backs of you, the workers. They were subsidized by Washington and state capitals, by you the taxpayer."
I think this is also quite true and indeed this has been developing since Reagan became president.

And in fact here is a statement of a rather similar proposition as Nader gave, only this time it is from the (rather extreme) right, namely from Milton Friedman (in 1962, but this seem to have been THE norm for Friedman: Profit and only profit, of private individuals running private corporation without any responsibility whatsoever to anyone:
"Few trends could so thoroughly undermine the very foundation of our free society as the acceptance by corporate officials of a social responsibility other than to make as much money for their stockholders as possible. This is a fundamentally subversive doctrine. If businessmen do have a social responsibility other than making maximum profits for stockholders, how are they to know what it is? Can self-selected private individuals decide what the social interest is?"
This "norm" - we got no responsibility whatsoever except enlarging our own profits - is one of the reasons I think Friedman was a neofascist, in my sense. And indeed if "self-selected private individuals" cannot "decide what the social interest is?" then no one can. Besides, the rich also are "self-selected private individuals" and they do understand what their "social interests" are: Their own interests and no one else's, precisely as Friedman put it.

Here is an important part of the reason why democracy has mostly disappeared in the USA:

Nader said the ruling elites have “lost the fear of the people.” This has given rise to “a multifaceted dictatorial government indentured to the plutocratic class symbolized by Wall Street.”

Corporations, enjoying a new tax code that reduces corporate income taxes to 21 percent while individuals pay up to 37 percent, have been awarded the constitutional rights of individuals while individuals have been stripped of their rights.

Precisely. And here is more by Nader:

Nader said he feared that the population was so effectively anesthetized by mass culture that it might not rise up against the elites. “The U.S. has developed a society with an almost indeterminate absorptive capacity for injustice, abuse and degradation,” Nader said. “There is no civic education in the schools. They don’t know what the Constitution is. They don’t know what the law of torts is. They don’t know where the town hall is. They’re living in virtual reality, swinging between big screen TV and their cellphones. They’re wallowing in text messages.

I quite agree, although I think that the phrase "the population was so effectively anesthetized by mass culture" is in fact something of a euphemism for the extremely widespread stupidity and ignorance that mark the majority of all adults in the USA, and that I saw started in Holland in 1978 (!!!!), when the "University" of Amsterdam was opened with the following utterly degenerate and quite fascistic lie that - in a university, formally committed to science! -

"Everybody knows that truth does NOT exist"

I though that was an utterly sick and degenerate lie then, and I still think so, more than forty years later, but in these forty years at least 90% of the Dutch "universities" have been - quite intentionally I am sure - thoroughly destroyed as the real universities they were between 1865 and 1965 (when the Dutch schools were very much simplified from then on).

Then again, I tried as much as I could do to stop this postmodernification of the Dutch "universities" but I utterly failed: 95% of the students and the staff in the 1980ies wanted it, and everybody got it, with the result that the Dutch "universities" are currently "educating" people with an IQ that is slightly above average in what are mostly nonsense degrees in pseudosciences.

Then there is this on one of the main sources of social change:

Great changes start with people in their 20s. But look what you’ve got now. You’ve got 10 years of internet connection, cellphones available to any child. That’s one. The second is 24/7 entertainment. The third is the abandonment by the elderly generation. They’ve sort of given up. They don’t know the gadgetry. They don’t know the language. They have their own economic insecurity.

In fact, I think it is worse than described, because the "people in their 20s" in vast majority understand as much about computing and computers as they understand about their TVs: Hardly anything. And they do not, not because they are less intelligent, but because they are far less well educated than their grandparents were, fifty and more years ago.

Then there is this on the disappearance of cash, that may happen quite soon:

Why do they want to get rid of cash? They want to drive everybody into an incarcerated penitentiary that is surrounded by mobile payments, credit cards, credit scores, credit ratings, debit cards, constant debt, invasion of privacy, and the ability to assess penalties, charges and unwanted purchases because they control people’s money.

And they control people's information and people's "privacies". Here is the last bit that I quote from this fine article (that I agree is pessimistic, but then so are the present dominant political facts for anyone interested in fairness, justice, equality or equal sharing):

Nader worries that as long as “10 to 15 percent of the American people are well-off” the elites will have enough support to continue the assault.

“Societies have been repressed by far smaller members of well-instituted upper classes,” he said. “That’s what we forget. Eighteenth-, 19th-, 20th-century Europe. A tiny clique controlled them.
Yes indeed. And these tiny cliques did not have the support of secret services everywhere whose machines know everything about anyone. The tiny cliques that nowadays control most of the world DO have that support.

And this is a strongly recommended article.


2. Duty to Warn: Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess the “Dangerous
     Case” of President Trump

This article is by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! It starts with the following introduction:
We revisit our interview with someone who’s led a discussion of mental health professionals who are deeply concerned about President Trump’s psychological instability. Dr. Bandy Lee is a forensic psychiatrist on the faculty of Yale School of Medicine who organized the “Duty to Warn” conference at Yale and edited the best-selling book, “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President.”
In fact, I have reviewed this interview already - see here - but since I agree (as a psychologist, also) that Trump is mad (alternatively: is insane, is crazy, has "a personality disorder", is totally unfit for president), simply on the basis of the definition (in observational terms) that I agree fully applies to Donald Trump.

But I'll quote only two bits today. Here is the first bit:
[L]ast month, I sat down with Yale psychiatrist Dr. Bandy Lee to talk with her about President Trump’s mental health and the growing movement of mental health experts called “duty to warn.” Dr. Bandy Lee is a forensic psychiatrist on the faculty of Yale School of Medicine, an internationally recognized expert on violence. She edited the book The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President. The book became a best-seller when it was published in October. I began by asking her about her concerns about President Trump’s mental health.

DR. BANDY LEE: It’s actually historically unprecedented that so many mental health professionals have come forth with their concerns, under any president, of any party. So it really is the first time that this many mental health professionals are coming together in a coalition. We even have a website now, DangerousCase.org, where the public and lawmakers can discourse with us. There are thousands of us at this point.

I quite agree (in fact since March 14, 2016, when I looked up the evidence and Trump's behavior, who was then not yet elected, but already quite crazy and lying all the time).

Here is the last bit, that also worries me a great lot, especially since this madman was elected president of the USA:
DR. BANDY LEE: So, our concerns are that someone with this level of mental instability and impairment has this much power, in the office of the presidency—basically, the power to start a devastating war, to launch nuclear missiles, without any inhibition. You saw from the hearings that there is very little inhibition in place right now. Within five minutes of the commander-in-chief’s orders, nuclear missiles could be launched without question. (...) And, of course, his decision-making capacity, having such levels of impulsivity, having a loose grip on reality and being so fragile in his ability to cope with ordinary stresses, such as basic criticisms or unflattering news, will tend to unravel, especially in times of heightened stress, such as under the special counsel’s investigations.
I completely agree with Bandy Lee, and this is a strongly recommended article.

3. The CIA's 60-Year History of Fake News

This article is by Robert Scheer on Truthdig. It seems a repeat of March 17, 2017 but I did not review it then and will do so now, albeit briefly.

It starts as follows:

In this week’s episode of “Scheer Intelligence,” Truthdig Editor in Chief Robert Scheer interviews Joel Whitney, author and co-founder of Guernica magazine.

Whitney’s new book, “Finks: How the C.I.A. Tricked the World’s Best Writers,” explores how the CIA influenced acclaimed writers and publications during the Cold War to produce subtly anti-communist material. During the interview, Scheer and Whitney discuss these manipulations and how the CIA controlled major news agencies and respected literary publications (such as the Paris Review).

I did not know that the Paris Review was "controlled" by the CIA. (I did read several of the books of interviews published by them in the 1970ies, but I neither liked most of the literature they reviewed, nor most of the interviews I read, but indeed I also did not have any idea they were controlled by the CIA.)

Here is the other bit I quote from the introduction to the long interview:

The discussion underscores the need for analysis of Cold War-era media as a way to avoid propagandized journalism today. Scheer says, “I look at the current situation, where we don’t even have a good communist enemy, so we’re inventing Russia as a reborn communist power enemy.”

Actually, while I think the "Cold War-era media" does deserve serious investigation, I do not think this is necessary ("the need") "to avoid propagandized journalism today".

The other statement in the paragraph is both quite true and - in my eyes, at least - quite odd and my reason is that Russia is in fact as capitalistic as is the USA at present: Socialism really has been destroyed in Russia since the early 1990ies.

But this also shows how incredibly much totalitarian propaganda now is accepted by many tens of millions of Americans (though not on the basis of the utterly false and misleading definition of "totalitarian" that the Wikipedia recently adopted, I do not know by which insane mechanism).

I will not review the long interview that follows the above introduction, but I do recommend it.


4. 'Out of Control' Trump's Lawyers Are Lying to Him about the Russia
     Investigation

This article is by Tom Boggioni on AlterNet and originally on Raw Story. It starts as follows:
Appearing on CNN’s State of the Union, legendary reporter Carl Bernstein claimed that sources within the White House have told him that President Donald Trump’s lawyers are lying to him about how bad the investigation into Russian collusion is going because they fear he will fire special counsel Robert Mueller.
I say.

Well... note Bernstein's claims are rather intricate: He has "
sources within the White House", who "have told him" that "Trump’s lawyers are lying to" Trump himself, "because they fear he will fire special counsel Robert Mueller".

I do not know what Bernstein knows, but I tend to believe this, in fact mostly because I think (as a psychologist) that Trump is quite mad - and see item 2 above.

Here is more:
Trump’s lawyers are painfully aware that their client is “out of control.”

Addressing Trump’s belief that he will be exonerated, Bernstein said Trump is lying but also may be in the dark because his legal team is afraid of what he might say or do if he knew what was really going on.

“There is no reason to believe almost anything Donald Trump says because what we know is that the president of the United States and his presidency is characterized, above all else, by the lying of the president of the United States,” Bernstein explained.”That doesn’t mean that lying by the president is a crime, but it does mean that we see him covering up events, but not necessarily criminally covering up events. And where this is going definitively we don’t know.”

I agree about the lying although I also think that (i) some of the lying very probably is criminal, and (ii) Trump has indulged so many lies - nearly 2000 in 2017 alone - that he has quite changed the role of the president: Now you must assume that what the president says is a lie, unless you are a probably quite dumb or a quite rich loyalist to Trump.

Here is the last bit I quote from this article (and again see item 2 above):

“They are telling him what he wants to hear to keep him from going off and firing Mueller in a rage because they have an out of control client” he stated. “The president of the United States is out of control a good deal of the time, especially when it comes to this investigation.”

Must I spell out that if the lawyers of the president believe that "[t]he president of the United States is out of control a good deal of the time" he very probably (bolding added) "is out of control a good deal of the time"?!

Anyway, this is a recommended article.


5. The Still-Missing Evidence of Russia-gate

This article is by Dennis J. Bernstein on Consortiumnews. It has a subtitle:
The central groupthink around Russia-gate is the still unproven claim that Russia hacked Democratic emails in 2016 and publicized them via WikiLeaks, a crucial issue that NSA experts say should be easy to prove if true (..)
Yes indeed, and most of the rest of this fine article is an interview with William Binney, who was one of the main men of the NSA for 30 years.

But first something else.

I like Consortiumnews, and especially the last 4 1/2 years in which I have tried to follow the news closely, mostly because I am very much worried by the takeover by the secret services - from anywhere, not just the USA - of the internet, to supply them with all the personal and private information they need to Deny, Disrupt, Degrade and Deceive absolutely everyone who does not belong to some secret service.

Consortiumnews now exists 22 years (since 1995) and it seems to be mostly the work of one contemporary of me, Robert Parry.

Well, Robert Parry got a stroke on Christmas Eve and writes himself:
My Christmas Eve stroke now makes it a struggle for me to read and to write. Everything takes much longer than it once did – and I don’t think that I can continue with the hectic pace that I have pursued for many years. But – as the New Year dawns – if I could change one thing about America and Western journalism, it would be that we all repudiate “information warfare” in favor of an old-fashioned repect for facts and fairness — and do whatever we can to achieve a truly informed electorate.
This is a great pity. I do hope he gets better soon and I also hope Consortiumnews will continue to exist.

Back to the article of Dennis Bernstein:

A changing-places moment brought about by Russia-gate is that liberals who are usually more skeptical of U.S. intelligence agencies, especially their evidence-free claims, now question the patriotism of Americans who insist that the intelligence community supply proof to support the dangerous claims about Russian ‘hacking” of Democratic emails especially when some  veteran U.S. government experts say the data would be easily available if the Russians indeed were guilty.

One of those experts is William Binney, a former high-level National Security Agency intelligence official who, after his 2001 retirement, blew the whistle on NSA extraordinary breadth of NSA surveillance programs.
Yes indeed. Here is some more on William Binney, who was one of the leading men in the NSA for a long time, and this is from he beginning of the interview Bernstein had with him:

Bernstein: Your expertise was in the Soviet Union and so you must know a lot about bugging.  Do you believe that Russia hacked and undermined our last election?  Can Trump thank Russia for the result?

Binney:  We at Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) published an article on this in July.  First of all, if any of the data went anywhere across the fiber optic world, the NSA would know.  Just inside the United States, the NSA has over a hundred tap points on the fiber lines, taking in everything.
Precisely - and that (bolding added) "the NSA has over a hundred tap points on the fiber lines" is one of the reasons the NSA totally broke the privacy of nearly everyone, and implicitly knows all about them, for they are "taking in everything" they can get.

Also, while the NSA is located in the USA where there are very many internet cables, in fact the same holds true of all secret services in the world: Each of these can now get access to at least some of the internet cables, and will know almost everything these cables are used to transport. Besides, in each and every case, this happened, is happening and will happen in the deepest secrecy. Everywhere. By any secret service.

Here is more on what the NSA should know, according to Binney, who knows more about the NSA than nearly everybody else:

Bernstein: So if, in fact, the Russians were tapping into DNC headquarters, the NSA would absolutely know about it.

Binney: Yes, and they would also have trace routes on where they went specifically, in Russia or anywhere else.
Indeed - and in fact the NSA does not know that "the Russians were tapping into DNC headquarters", which also implies they probably were not (because then the NSA would have known).

Next, there is this on spying by the Russians:

Bernstein: Let me come at this from the other side.  Has the United States ever tried to hack into and undermine Russian operations in this way?

Binney:  Oh, sure.  We do it as much as anybody else.  In the Ukraine, for example, we sponsored regime change.  When someone who was pro-Soviet was elected president, we orchestrated a coup to put our man in power.

Then we invited the Ukraine into NATO. 
There is considerably more in the interview, but I hold fast to two points:

(1) the Russians are spying as much as they can (like any secret service indeed: these are golden times for any secret service, for each and any secret service now has almost total access to the total privacy of anyone anywhere), but (2) given the powers of the NSA, it is extremely unlikely the Russians were tapping into the DNC.

I completely agree with this, if only because the NSA itself has admitted it has no real evidence of Russian spying on the DNC.

This is on Binney's goals (as they are now):

Bernstein: Is it your goal to defend people’s privacy and their right to communicate privately?

Binney: Yes, to defend privacy but also to defend the Constitution.  Right now, our government is violating the first, fourth and fifth amendments in various ways. Mueller did it, Comey did it, they were all involved in violating the Constitution.

I quite agree, and Mueller is the one who is at the moment investigating Trump. And this is on how much the NSA can get, of absolutely everyone:

Bernstein: They now have access to every single one of our electronic conversations, is that right?  The human mind has a hard time imagining how you could contain, move and study all that information.

Binney: Basically, it is achievable because most of the processing is done by machine so it doesn’t cost human energy.

I note Binney does not quite say that the NSA knows everything about anyone, but he does say it is "achievable", and I think it has been achieved in the nearly 17 years that have passed since 9/11, because 17 years is a long time, and there were no real barriers whatsoever on the NSA's collecting everything it could get.

In fact, I think this was the whole point that the internet was developed as it was: To spy on everything anyone may be doing on a computer that is connected to the internet. For more, see the opinions of Zbigniew Brzezinski of the late 1960ies and early 1970ies, when these plans were in place already.

Here is the ending of the interview:

Bernstein: What concerns do you have regarding the Russia-gate investigation and the McCarthyite tactics that are being employed?

Binney: Ultimately, my main concern is that it could lead to actual war with Russia.  We should definitely not be going down that path.  We need to get out of all these wars.  I am also concerned about what we are doing to our own democracy.  We are trampling the fundamental principles contained in the Constitution.  The only way to reverse all this is to start indicting people who are participating in and managing these activities that are clearly unconstitutional.

I quite agree - but I fear this will only happen, if at all indeed, after the next big economical crisis.


Note

[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 (!!).


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