February 15, 2018

Crisis:  South Africa, Prognosis, American Sub-Humans, Intel-for-Hire, Trump Budget


1. Summary
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from February 15, 2018.


This is a Nederlog of Thursday, February 15, 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, but since 2010 in English) 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 February 15, 2018

These are five crisis files that are all well worth reading:
1. S. African President Jacob Zuma Quits to Prevent Ouster 
2. Prognosis: America 2018
3. The Trump Administration Wants to Make a Decades-Old Right-Wing
     Fantasy a Reality

4. Intel-for-Hire Undermines U.S. Intelligence (Part 2)
5. Trump Budget Offers Stark Vision We Cannot Afford to Ignore
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. S. African President Jacob Zuma Quits to Prevent Ouster

This article is by Christopher Torchia on Truthdig and originally on The Associated Press. It starts as follows:
South African President Jacob Zuma resigned on Wednesday in a televised address to the nation, avoiding his almost certain ouster in a parliamentary vote scheduled for Thursday after years of corruption scandals.

Zuma’s resignation came after the ruling African National Congress party instructed him to leave office by the end of Wednesday or face the motion of no confidence in parliament. His departure ended a leadership crisis in one of Africa’s biggest economies and set the stage for ruling party lawmakers to elect acting president Cyril Ramaphosa, previously deputy president, as Zuma’s successor.

Well... that is something. And in case you ask: This continues my review of an article yesterday, also about Zuma. Yesterday it wasn't clear Zuma would go, but then he did.

Here is the other bit that I quote from this article:

The ANC, which has led South Africa since the end of white minority rule in 1994, had wanted Zuma to end his second five-year term early so that it could build up support ahead of 2019 elections.

“We can no longer keep South Africa waiting,” said Paul Mashatile, the ANC’s treasurer general.

Ramaphosa, elected as the ANC’s new leader in December, has said the government will do more to fight the corruption that has damaged the ANC.

I can't say - after nine years of corruption by their leading man - that the ANC's new leader's statement that his "government will do more to fight the corruption that has damaged the ANC" sounds strong or convincing.

But we shall see, and I agree Zuma's removal is one step forward. This is a recommended article.

2. Prognosis: America 2018

This article is by Michael Fangman MD on Truthdig. It starts as follows:

Doctors seek a unifying diagnosis to explain symptoms and inform a prognosis. My diagnosis for a Trumped-up White House with pseudo-populism as a diversion is naked greed. “Trust me” winks from the far-right wing predict a dire prognosis for the 99 percent.

In one career, my 38 working years as an oncologist, U.S. society has done a “180”—from a Peace Corps legacy to TV’s “Apprentice” and a mentality of social Darwinism. Rupert Murdoch’s Fox, echoing the Koch brother’s ALEC, the Cato Institute, and James Buchanan/Milton Friedman libertarianism have made “you eat what you kill” the sacred creed of their right-wing propaganda machine. And much of America has joined in the chant of “money over all.”

Soul searching over civil rights, the Pentagon Papers and Watergate once prompted a national catharsis and predicted an era of enlightened, transparent governance of America. But since those innocent days, the decades of my medical career have witnessed health care turned from a noble profession into “profit center” exploitation among Big Insurance, Big Pharma and Big Hospitals.

Many physicians joined in the gold rush, emboldened by Wall Street’s “greed is great” mantra.
I agree to all of this - and Fangman (who is an M.D. since nearly forty years) is quite correct that there - also - is an enormous corruption among physicians, and not merely in the USA either. [2]

Here is some on the personal motivation of Michael Fangman:
Understand that I am no socialist or partisan advocate. I’ve always been an independent. I earned money by hard work and respect a foundational tenet of capitalism: If you snooze, you lose. There was bad governance by Wendy Lee Gramm, Bill Clinton, Lawrence Summers, George W. Bush, Barack Obama. They coddled and then bailed out the pervasive greed of Wall Street and that of greedy mortgage bankers like Angelo Mozilo at Countrywide, as it flushed away much of my career’s work and the security of millions of others in the Great Recession. This casino mentality is still taking the 99 percent for suckers. Trump’s “tax reform” is yet another smoke screen for unvarnished greed.
In fact, I don't much care whether Fangman is a socialist or a partisan advocate, though my reasons are probably not quite normal:

First, I really dislike partisans (of any kind), mostly because I think all of them are inspired by ideologies, and ideologies are the stupid and ignorant parts of philosophies.

And yes, the philosophies also may very well be mistaken (all or all but one are not correct, it would seem [3]), but - at least as I use the terms "philosophy" and "ideology" - people genuinely interested in philosophy are genuinely interested in true information, whereas ideologists, who generally "know" that they are right, tend to seek only convincing information (which very often consists of lies or propaganda).

And second, while I am a socialist, I am not a socialist because I think that is currently possible or feasible, but because I think democratic socialism is a better system than capitalism. Also, while I think I am quite right in that estimate, I know the large majority thinks otherwise (and indeed also knows little of socialism). In fact, I do not even know whether there are sufficiently many truly intelligent and truly honest men and women to realize socialism: I hope there are, but I do not know. [4]

Here is more by Fangman:

I don’t write to grind my ax. I write because con men running this nation are confusing American voters. Since the 1980s, hucksters too numerous to recount—see Bush/Dick Cheney, Henry Paulson, Lloyd Blankfein and now Donald Trump—have seduced solid, hard-working Americans to believe in bogus scams like invading Iraq. The Koch brothers’ anti-democracy libertarianism has taken Friedman’s dog-eat-dog “trickle down” to new lows.

Today’s ruling “Republi-cons” have no kinship with Dwight Eisenhower’s Republican Party or with principled Republican moderates of the Watergate era. Their stealth service to billionaires is simply not divulged, and the corporate media obliges their secretive agenda with distractions about conventional boogeymen and hype.

I again agree with all of what I quoted. Here is some more by Fangman:

A sobering array of deregulatory-, regulatory- and privatization-induced wounds plague our society, yet they never get airtime or congressional action, overshadowed continually by the raging scandals that hyper-partisanship makes inevitable.

In health care, poor leadership has cursed us with the labors of Sisyphus, in the form of counterproductive electronic medical records, billing, data collection and prescribing systems. The Joint Commission watchdogs once did good work but now seem like a bloated bureaucracy nitpicking health care to death. We have irrational drug-pricing burdens, artificial intelligence threatening to sweep away human interactions from even medical care, and much more that complicates (rather than streamlines) the whole system.

And this is also all correct according to what I know and value. Incidentally, Fangman is quite right when he says that "electronic medical records, billing, data collection and prescribing systems" are all counterproductive, but he may not agree with me that all of this was intentional - and I do not mean the very many mistakes that were made, but the fact that the whole medical system arrived on line, which means that it is effectively open for the NSA and many others to get the full details on anyone's health.

I think that was the real underlying point, but I agree it was hidden.

Here is the last bit I am quoting from this fine article. It is from its end:

Insidious corruption unparalleled in American history—what I regard as Deception Inc.—is in control of our society. Partisan propaganda pits Main Street Americans against one another to distrust the “other” and vote for con artists and thieves doing the bidding of billionaires.

We, the people, must learn the details of all this corruption in the service of greed. Scholars and investigative journalists exposing our corrupt system of dysfunctional leadership must become household names among the 99 percent. We must unite to demand moderation and fairness from authentic leaders who respect democracy.

Well... I agree with the first paragraph. As to the second: I hope so, but I also think that "the 99 percent" will not agree for a good part, either because their values are different or because they are in fact too stupid, too ignorant or too greedy/egoistic.

And this is a recommended article.

3. The Trump Administration Wants to Make a Decades-Old Right-Wing Fantasy a Reality

This article is by Simon Maloy on AlterNet and originally on Media Matters. It starts as follows:

The Trump White House’s newly proposed budget is (like all White House budget proposals) more of a political document than anything else. It has no actual bearing on how the government will spend its money, and Congress will almost certainly ignore it. But that’s not to say it is entirely devoid of value -- the White House uses the annual budget proposal to act out its fantasies and give us a little glimpse at the ideologies motivating the administration’s policy preferences.

One of those ideologies, as conveyed by the White House’s vision for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, expresses insane and horrifying contempt for low-income Americans. And while the policy the administration has proposed is extreme, it fits in squarely with longstanding conservative efforts to stigmatize and shame recipients of government assistance.

Yes indeed.

Also, I have been saying for almost two years now that Donald Trump is a madman and a neofascist, and I see this decision as very strong reasons to assume that what Trump and his team really think of the poor differs extremely little from what the fascists thought of the poor and the left: They are the subhumans. And Very Great Geniuses like Trump and his mates are White Supermen.

In case you doubt this, here is more:

One of the administration’s supposed cost-saving measures is “a bold new approach to administering SNAP.” The way the program currently works, SNAP-eligible households are provided a monthly benefit based on income level in the form of a debit card, which can be used to purchase grocery items. Some restrictions apply (no alcohol, tobacco, or pet food, for example), but SNAP recipients have wide latitude in what foods they can purchase and where they can shop.

The Trump administration wants to change all of this by forcing most SNAP recipients to receive half their monthly benefit in the form of “a USDA Foods package, which would include items such as shelf-stable milk, ready to eat cereals, pasta, peanut butter, beans and canned fruit, vegetables, and meat, poultry or fish.” The Republican White House wants to choose which foods SNAP recipients eat, and it wants to control how they receive their food each month -- so much for “small government” conservatism abolishing the “nanny state.”
Yes and no: I agree with the criticism, but I take it further (also seeing millionaires get at least $70,000 dollars a year for free): This is designed so as to denigrate the poor as much as currently possible - and if it were possible to force them to creep to the providers of the prescribed food, and politely say "Thank you very much" three times, they would have prescribed that as well.

For me, this is self-evident and very conscious sadism of the very rich, like Trump. You may want to explain it otherwise, but - also given Trump's obvious racism - this seems the best explanation I know.

The article ends as follows:

The Trump administration’s proposal derives from the same idea that SNAP recipients can’t be trusted and will necessarily misuse their benefit. Rather than banning certain foods, the White House is proposing to force SNAP beneficiaries to eat an approved list of low-cost foods while simultaneously limiting the amount of benefit they have to spend. It’s gross paternalism lightly disguised with absurd promises about efficiency and cost-savings. And it fits right in with the broader right-wing argument that receipt of government assistance is morally suspect and recipients should be penalized through stigma and controlled through loss of choice.
Again I more or less agree, but I also extend my criticism: This is not just or even primarily distrust: it is disgust with the poor, for which reason it also treats them sadistically. And this is a recommended article.

4. Intel-for-Hire Undermines U.S. Intelligence (Part 2)

This article is by George Eliason on Consortiumnews. This is Part 2: I reviewed Part 1 here. This article starts as follows:
In part one of this series, we looked at the top level of the privatized intelligence community showing that large for-profit companies and individual actors have other interests in mind than the public good. Work that was previously considered inherently governmental is routinely contracted out to people who only serve their own self-interest, which may be at odds with what most people might expect from intelligence – for example, unbiased information to guide sensible policy-making decisions.

Now we’ll look at the next level down – the smaller companies, specialty companies, and practitioners that service the top level. We’ll see how they fit in the picture and work in real life.
I copied this mostly to make clear it is Part 2 of a three-part series, of which I also reviewed Part 1. Here is more:

In 2016, Tim Shorrock wrote an article describing the five intelligence giants that control domestic policy, foreign policy, military, and civilian leaders with the products they sell. They create the information, analyze the information, and decide who the President of the United States will see as an enemy and who as a friend.

The smaller companies provide the resources for them to work with and base their reports on. In the digital age intelligence has become a buyer’s market. If the larger company profits more by finding Russian influence at work at a grammar school Christmas play, then that’s the conclusion that will be drawn. If you aren’t up to the task, someone else will provide the “proof.” After all, that’s where the money is.

I have not read Shorrock's article and I shall do so later. Here I say that Shorrock's analysis sounds plausible, in fact especially (to me) because the analysis seems very close to my analysis of neofascism, that is based on the profits the large corporations - some with billions of customers - make: It is profit that dominates everything, and far more than truth - as indeed is said in the quotation.

Here is more by Eliason:

Private sector services mirror what they do for government including Intel-for-Hire, espionage, information operations, direct action, and state-sized propaganda operations. This is work that the government has stated on many occasions needs to remain with the agencies that can be held responsible to the public – and not to private companies that aren’t.

The contractors and companies work both inside and outside U.S. government circles. They sometimes work for foreign governments. When they are in the private sector, they have no problem attacking and harassing U.S. citizens as well as the rest of the global community. Wherever their clients point, they fire.

This is the part some of the worst offenders take very seriously. In their world, they are James Bond and destroying the reputations of innocent people is a service to their country, and keeps their bank accounts flush with money. In their minds, they are this generation’s super-patriots, when in fact, as soon as what they do is opened to inspection, they are common criminals.

The main point here is that the corporations that do do the work - which is: spying - are not governmental (though the government says they should be - which by this time is surely a major lie), but are both quite private and also quite pliable.

I think both assessments are correct, but I do not know.

Here is Eliason's judgement on the present stage of "intelligence research":

People with no security clearances and radical political agendas have state-sized cyber tools at their disposal and can use them for their own political agendas, private business, and personal vendettas the same way they use CIA’s Vault 7 hacking tools for state projects. And this has been going on for years.

That is - Eliason says - the real intelligence research is given to private corporations, who do essentially what they please - and have done so for many years.

Here is the last bit I quote from this article:

Anything marked as “intelligence” is also designated top secret by the all of the DNI agencies, so even something that is originally open-source information becomes “top secret” once it is earmarked for an agency. This is being done on a regular basis at different levels.

In brief:

If something can be physically stolen from someone (which is a matter of technique, and the techniques are very far advanced), then it will probably be stolen, and it will be styled "intelligence", which in turn is sufficient to make it "top secret", which again allows that the game can continue, for this also makes the corporations which do this virtually completely uncontrollable by anyone who does not head such a corporation or is not a high member of some intelligence service.

And this seems to be a fair summary of what "the intelligence services of the USA" have been doing since 9/11. I cannot control everything or indeed most things Eliason said in this article,
but it is again quite interesting and recommended.

5. Trump Budget Offers Stark Vision We Cannot Afford to Ignore

This article is by Robert Greenstein on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:
A President’s budget reflects his vision for America.  From that perspective, President Trump’s vision is stark, with the most affluent individuals and powerful corporations accumulating more wealth — and wielding more power, and facing fewer limits, to treat workers and consumers as they choose — while tens of millions of struggling Americans must reduce their already modest standards of living.
Yes indeed. And I think that the vision president Trump offers is a neofascistic vision, which also seems to include his own Great Genius as a - real, in his opinion, if I am right - Supermen And Genius (Of All Geniuses, like Stalin).

You may doubt my additions (but see item 3), although I am quite definite myself that Trump is a neofascist (in my definition of that term: see the last link).

Here is some more:
While some media coverage has portrayed this budget as largely irrelevant, such a judgment is premature and likely mistaken.  The President is his party’s leader, his party controls the House and Senate, and his budget reflects his priorities and vision for the country.  Congress likely won’t enact many of the budget’s specific proposals in 2018.  But the budget shows what the President intends to seek if his party retains control of the House in November (..)
Yes, I think that is a correct estimate - which also shows that the elections in November are quite important.

Here is some more by Greenstein:
The budget comes just weeks after the President and Congress enacted a top-heavy tax cut, one that the Tax Policy Center estimated will give those who make more than $1 million a year an average annual tax cut of $70,000 — more than the entire annual income of the median-income household.  Nevertheless, the budget calls for slashing one program after another that provides basic assistance for large numbers of Americans of modest means and promotes upward mobility.
  • It proposes once again to repeal the ACA’s coverage expansions and gouge Medicaid deeply on top of that — cutting Medicaid for seniors, people with disabilities, and families with children, as well as other adults (...)
  • It proposes deep cuts in basic nutrition, housing, and income assistance for millions of Americans below or close to the poverty line, most of whom work for low wages, are elderly or disabled, or care for young children. (...)
  • It makes a mockery of Administration rhetoric that urges the poor to work harder.  For instance, its proposals would lead to the eviction of many people receiving rental assistance if they don’t have jobs or aren’t enrolled in work programs, even as it also proposes to raise rents sharply on many of them if they do work. (..)
Yes indeed - and I call the budget sadistic and fascistic, and I also think I am correct if I say that at least the sadism is quite conscious and quite intentional.

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

This budget would widen inequality, worsen poverty and hardship, and further divide the country.  With it, the President essentially calls on us to ignore what Lincoln called “the better angels of our nature” — and instead to enter a new Gilded Age.

Yes indeed - and the Gilded Age was between 1877 and 1897. And this is a recommended article.


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 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] Namely - for example - in Holland (and also in England): I have been ill now for nearly forty years, and got one of the best M.A.'s in psychology that ever was awarded here, but 9 out 10 Dutch medics all follow and have followed the sadistic fraud Wessely (and others) since 1980, as if no one can be a medical doctor in Holland (or England) if he or she doesn't agree - for nearly 40 years, moreover - to all the ideological bullshit that the majority agrees on.

While knowing shit of psychology, moreover.

[3] In fact, I am a philosopher. I only became a psychologist after I had been illegally removed from taking the M.A. in philosophy by the sadists and fascist terrorists who ruled the "University" of Amsterdam in the 1980ies: The sadist Gevers, the sadist Poppe, and the sadist Verhoeven.

I also add that these subhumans are all dead, and cannot be offended anymore, which gives me reason to say that they were subhumans compared to my very heroic father and grandfather.

As to philosophy: I think there - probably - is one correct philosophy (for human beings), but I do not know it, and I think no one does, although I also think that some philosophers - notably, those with a talent for mathematics and science - are likely to be more correct (or to err less) than other philosophers.

[4] I am quite realistic here (and I insist that one's choice for or against socialism is not a factual but an ethical choice).

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