February 23, 2018

Crisis: On ¨Russia-gate¨, CIA-Director, Biggest Watergate Story, Common Good, Opioids


1. Summary
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from February 23, 2018.


This is a Nederlog of Friday, February 23, 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 23, 2018

These are five crisis files that are all well worth reading:
1. The Real Goal of 'Russiagate'
2. My First Day as CIA Director
3. How the Washington Post Missed the Biggest Watergate Story of All
4. Why the Common Good Disappeared (And How We Get it Back)
5. The Big Pharma Family that Brought Us the Opioid Crisis
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 Real Goal of 'Russiagate'

This article is by Glen Ford on Truthdig and originally on Black Agenda Report. It starts as follows:

Robert Mueller, the former head of the national political police (FBI), has indicted 13 Russian nationals for the crime of sowing “discord in the U.S. political system” and encouraging “U.S. minority groups not to vote in the 2016 U.S. presidential election or to vote for a third-party U.S. presidential candidate.” The defendants’ nationality makes their acts of political speech a crime, in Mueller’s legal view, but “at least 20 Americans” are embedded in the document as unindicted co-conspirators because they interacted in various ways with the Russian team’s activities during the 2016 presidential campaign.

These U.S. citizens “were just engaging in politics,” said independent journalist Marcy Wheeler, on Democracy Now! “They were putting together campaign events. They were engaging in online speech. That’s like, you know, the most sacred part of being an American citizen. And yet, they were unknowingly interacting with Russians. …”

The Russians will never face trial in the U.S., and it is highly unlikely that the unindicted Americans will be criminally charged—but that is not the purpose of Mueller’s indictment. The political crime has been defined, for the broad purpose of repressing dissent in the United States. The witch hunt has found a legalistic vocabulary.

Yes indeed, and I will give two remarks about the backgrounds that I see.

The first remark is about the sort of crimes Robert Mueller is prosecuting, which indeed seem to be these two: ¨sowing “discord in the U.S. political system”¨ and ¨encouraging “U.S. minority groups not to vote in the 2016 U.S. presidential election or to vote for a third-party U.S. presidential candidate.”¨

In my - rather solid - understanding of ¨the law¨ and of human freedoms, these are crimes only in a totalitarian country - and for once the (utterly false, and intentionally falsifying) definition of ¨totalitarian" on the Wikipedia [2] helps or might help (if you admit the possibility that the USA is or may be totalitarian, which the makers of the utter trash on Wikipedia probably reject out of hand).

And wholly apart from totalitarianism, people should be free to choose what they do and think, and if according to Mueller it is a crime ¨to vote for a third-party U.S. presidential candidate¨ I think Mueller is in fact propounding an authoritarian system that has nothing to do with personal freedoms (except in terms of propaganda and deceptions).

And my second remark is about Ford´s diagnosis that ¨[t]he political crime has been defined, for the broad purpose of repressing dissent in the United States¨: I think that given the above precisification of what Mueller is doing, this is quite correct. (And in fact Mueller is part of the Deep State, I think, though indeed also as an opponent of Trump.)

Next, here is a small part of a considerably longer critical exposition about a prominent black writer on The New York Times, Charles Blow:

Black Bernie Sanders activists are co-conspirators, in Blow’s view: “Even after Clinton accepted the Democratic nomination, rapper Killer Mike, a prominent Bernie Sanders supporter and surrogate, was still promoting the position that ‘If you’re voting for Trump or Hillary Clinton, you’re voting for the same thing.'”

Which is true, in that both are corporate capitalist politicians and warmongering racists that don’t deserve the vote of any decent person. But, saying so can now be construed as giving “aid and comfort” to a foreign “enemy”—either directly to Putin or to his “surrogate,” Trump. It must be a crime, because “the Russians” were indicted for it, right?
In fact, I happen to disagree with Killer Mike, and especially because I think - as a psychologist - that Hillary Clinton is not mad, while Donald Trump is mad [3], and madmen should not be president of the USA or indeed any country.

But I agree with Ford for the most part, simply because people should be free to choose, while Mueller´s position is one of authoritarianism that has nothing to do with real personal freedom (and that I think is very frightening).

Here is more on Mueller´s authoritarianism or totalitarianism:
Under the Mueller legal formula, there are many more potential co-conspirators. The highest political crimes are “sowing discord” and “spreading distrust toward the candidates and the political system in general”—for which one can theoretically go to prison, if you are a foreigner (Russian, not Israeli), or become an unindicted party to the charge, if American.
I agree with Ford that under any half-way realistic democracy neither is a crime in any sense: These are crimes only for totalitarian or authoritarian minds, and not for democratic minds.

Here is Glen Ford´s conclusion:
Capital is using Russiagate to inflict extreme shocks to the very political system they claim to be defending. The trauma is necessary, they believe, because capital has nothing to offer to the masses of people, and must therefore dramatically weaken or destroy the political mechanisms through which the people make demands on the rulers. They are preparing the landscape for a regime of permanent austerity and war, and plan to suppress all opposition on the Left. That’s why Black Agenda Report and a dozen other Left web sites were named and defamed as Russian fellow travelers and purveyors of “fake news” by the Washington Post, the plaything of the CIA-partnered oligarch, Jeff Bezos.
I more or less agree, though more with the end than the start. And I agree Mueller is pushing an authoritarian or totalitarian idea of what are crimes. This is a recommended article.

2. My First Day as CIA Director

This article is by Ray McGovern on Consortiumnews. It starts with a summary, which I think I should quote:

Former CIA analyst and founder of Veterans Intelligence Professionals for Sanity Ray McGovern, in this tongue-in-cheek article, outlines steps he would take on Day One as CIA Director to get to the bottom of Russiagate.
I quoted this to stress the article is ¨tongue-in-cheek¨ and to give a few bits of information on Ray McGovern. This the beginning of the Wikipedia article about him (minus note numbers):
Raymond McGovern (born August 25, 1939) is a veteran CIA officer turned political activist. McGovern was a CIA analyst from 1963 to 1990, and in the 1980s chaired National Intelligence Estimates and prepared the President's Daily Brief. He received the Intelligence Commendation Medal at his retirement, returning it in 2006 to protest the CIA's involvement in torture. McGovern's post-retirement work includes commenting on intelligence issues and in 2003 co-founding Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity.
In other words: McGovern was a quite important member of the CIA for nearly thirty years. And here is some of the background about why he wrote the present article:
Now that I have been nominated again – this time by author Paul Craig Roberts – to be CIA director, I am preparing to hit the ground running.

Last time my name was offered in nomination for the position – by The Nation publisher Katrina vanden Heuvel – I did not hold my breath waiting for a call from the White House. Her nomination came in the afterglow of my fortuitous, four-minute debate with then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, when I confronted him on his lies about the attack on Iraq, on May 4, 2006 on national TV. Since it was abundantly clear that Rumsfeld and I would not get along, I felt confident I had royally disqualified myself.

This time around, on the off-chance I do get the nod, I have taken the time to prepare the agenda for my first few days as CIA director.
Clearly, McGovern is not serious about ¨the off-chance¨, but I think he is rather serious on the following point, even though it will not happen:
Get former National Security Agency Technical Director William Binney back to CIA to join me and the “handpicked” CIA analysts who, with other “handpicked” analysts (as described by former National Intelligence Director James Clapper on May 8, 2017) from the FBI and NSA, prepared the so-called Intelligence Community Assessment (ICA) of Jan. 6, 2017.
Yes indeed - and I did review McGovern and Binney´s opinion about ¨the so-called Intelligence Community Assessment¨, under the last link.

Here is more:
Far too few people realize that they get a very warped view on such issues from the New York Times. And, no doubt, it would take some time, for the Times and other outlets to get used to some candor from the CIA, instead of the far more common tendentious leaks.  In any event, we will try to speak truth to the media – as well as to power.

I happen to share the view of the handful of my predecessor directors who believed we have an important secondary obligation to do what we possibly can to inform/educate the public as well as the rest of the government – especially on such volatile and contentious issues like “Russian hacking.”

What troubles me greatly is that the NYT and other mainstream print and TV media seem to be bloated with the thin gruel-cum-Kool Aid they have been slurping at our CIA trough for a year and a half; and then treating the meager fare consumed as some sort of holy sacrament.
Yes indeed. Here is more:

I recall the banner headline spanning the top of the entire front page of the NYT on Jan. 7, 2017: “Putin Led Scheme to Aid Trump, Report Says;” and the electronic version headed “Putin Led a Complex Cyberattack Scheme to Aid Trump, Report Finds.”  I said to myself sarcastically, “Well there you go!  That’s exactly what Mrs. Clinton – not to mention the NY Times, the Washington Post and The Establishment – have been saying for many months.”

Buried in that same edition of the Times was a short paragraph by Scott Shane: “What is missing from the public report is what many Americans most eagerly anticipated: hard evidence to back up the agencies’ claims that the Russian government engineered the election attack. That is a significant omission.”

Omission? No hard evidence?  No problem.
Quite so. And this is quoted from the end:
In sum, my priority for Day One is to hear both sides of the story regarding “Russian hacking” with all cards on the table.  All cards.  That means no questions are out of order, including what, if any, role the “Steele dossier” may have played in the preparation of the Jan. 6, 2017 assessment.
On the chance that the Times and other media might decide to play it straight, and that the “straight” diverges from the prevailing, Clapperesque narrative of Russian perfidy, the various mainstream outlets will face a formidable problem of their own making. Mark Twain put it this way: “It is easier to fool people than it is to convince them they have been fooled.”

Yes, I agree. But McGovern will - of course - not be nominated as chief of the CIA, and also Mark Twain´s saying does not just apply to the fooled or fooling media, but also to ordinary people who have been foooled. And this is a recommended article.

3. How the Washington Post Missed the Biggest Watergate Story of All

This article is by Garrick Alder on Consortiumnews. It starts with a summary:

The Watergate scandal may have been rooted in Richard Nixon’s alleged efforts to sabotage the 1968 Paris peace talks, but this story has never fully been told – partly because the Washington Post remained silent on it, explains Garrick Alder.

This seems correct, as you will see in a moment. I review it for two reasons, namely its intrinsic importance, even though that is in fact mostly speculative, precisely because the Washington Post did know and remained silent, and also because I recall this quite well, since my memory is OK and I was 20 in 1970. (Yes, it is long ago - nearly fifty years.)

Here is a partial summary of the article:
Stephen Spielberg’s film The Post is still running in theaters, lauding the Washington Post, Katharine Graham and Ben Bradlee as fearless exposers of official secrets about government wrongdoing. But previously overlooked evidence now reveals for the first time how the Washington Post missed the most serious leak in newspaper history, and as a result history itself took a serious wrong turn. Consequently, this is a story that was also missed by Spielberg, and missed by Alan Pakula in his 1976 film about The Washington Post’s role in Watergate, All The President’s Men.
I agree with the partial summary and give the detail in the next quotation. About the above quotation I only say that I did follow the story fairly closely in the early Seventies, and that I did see All The President’s Men (which I did not find very interesting) but not The Post.

And here is what Garrick Alder´s article is about:

The newspaper had been told by an unbeatable source – one might almost say, an “unimpeachable” source – that the president had committed treason against America in time of war and had then conspired to destroy the damning evidence of his own crime. It is no exaggeration to say that if the Washington Post had printed what it had been told, simmering domestic discontent over the Vietnam War would have become an incendiary mix with national disgust over Nixon’s conduct in office.

At the height of the Watergate scandal, in summer 1974, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger tried to tell the world about Nixon’s sabotage of the 1968 Paris peace talks, talks which – had they succeeded – could have spared the nation six more years of futile slaughter. Nixon would have gone down with the blame for Vietnam squarely on his shoulders – ultimately, perhaps, providing America with much-needed catharsis. Kissinger leaked his knowledge of Nixon’s treason to Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward. Woodward fumbled the pass and no story ever appeared.

That seems to be correct (although I rather trust Deep Throat than Kissinger). In any case, it seems The Washington Post did know it in the first half of the Seventies, and did not print it, and it would seem they did not because they feared the consequences that Alder sketches in the first of the above two quoted paragraphs. This is an interesting and recommended article.

4. Why the Common Good Disappeared (And How We Get it Back)

This article is by Robert Reich on his site. It continues this article and it starts as follows:

In 1963 over 70 percent of Americans trusted government to do the right thing all or most of the time; nowadays only 16 percent do. 

There has been a similar decline in trust for corporations. In the late 1970s, 32 percent trusted big business, by 2016, only 18 percent did. 

Trust in banks has dropped from 60 percent to 27 percent. Trust in newspapers, from 51 percent to 20 percent. Public trust has also plummeted for nonprofits, universities, charities, and religious institutions.

Why this distrust? As economic inequality has widened, the moneyed interests have spent more and more of their ever-expanding wealth to alter the rules of the game to their own advantage. 

Too many leaders in business and politics have been willing to do anything to make more money or to gain more power – regardless of the consequences for our society.

I do not know the sources for Reich´s numbers, but since these are public, I trust they are more or less correct, and I also think the last paragraph - ¨Too many leaders in business and politics have been willing to do anything to make more money or to gain more power¨ - is quite correct.

Then again, my own conclusion from these very considerable falls in trust is a bit optimistic: I think trust fell more and more as more and more people saw that they were being lied to.

Here is more on what ¨leaders in business and politics have been willing to do¨:

We see this everywhere – in the new tax giveaway to big corporations, in gun manufacturer’s use of the NRA to block gun controls, in the Koch Brother’s push to roll back environmental regulations, in Donald Trump’s profiting off his presidency. 

No wonder much of the public no longer believes that America’s major institutions are working for the many. Increasingly, they have become vessels for the few.

The question is whether we can restore the common good. Can the system be made to work for the good of all? 

Some of you may feel such a quest to be hopeless.
In part, yes. But - as I pointed out in my review of Reich´s previous article - ¨the common good¨ is not easily defined, though I agree with Reich that there is a common good of some kind, as indeed is also presupposed by the Constitution.

As to being hopeless: If you are really hopeless, perhaps you should consider suicide. As far as I am concerned (with a father who survived over 3 years and 9 months of German concentration camps as a ¨political terrorist¨, in which his weight got as low as 37.5 kilos), while I grant that I am quite pessimistic, for what I think are - alas - quite good reasons, I think that while one is alive there always is hope. And this is a recommended paper.

5. The Big Pharma Family that Brought Us the Opioid Crisis

This article is by Sam Pizzigati on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:

If the devil wears Prada, what do America’s most destructive drug pushers wear? They wear smiles. The drug pushers we have in mind here have caused hundreds of thousands of deaths, enough fatalities to decrease overall U.S. life expectancy at birth for the last two years running. Yet no police SWAT teams have pounded down any doors hunting these drug pushers down.

These particular drug pushers have devastated millions of families across the United States. Yet some of America’s most honorable institutions, outfits ranging from Yale University to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, have spent decades lauding their philanthropic generosity and benevolence.

We’re obviously not talking El Chapo or any of his drug-running buddies here. We’re talking about the mega-billionaire family behind one of America’s most profitable drug-industry empires, the privately held Purdue Pharma.

Last week, flacks at Purdue announced that the company will no longer be flooding doctors’ offices with sales representatives hawking OxyContin, the now-notorious opioid painkiller. This move may be the closest admission of guilt we will ever see from Purdue Pharma — or the patriarchs of the Sackler family that gave it birth.

Yes, I quite agree: Indeed the ¨The drug pushers we have in mind here have caused hundreds of thousands of deaths, enough fatalities to decrease overall U.S. life expectancy at birth for the last two years running¨, and it is also true none of them were prosecuted in any way, which also has been going on a long time.

Here is more:

Sackler’s marketing miracles turned the tranquillizers Librium and Valium into everyday commodities. By 1973, millions of annual tranquillizer prescriptions had created what Senator Edward Kennedy bewailed as a “a nightmare of dependence and addiction.”

But Purdue Pharma, the drug company the Sacklers ran, had grander visions, and the company’s dreams revolved around exploiting the untapped potential of opioids, synthetic forms of opium that modern researchers had first started developing in the early 1900s. Doctors had always known that these opioids had a significant pain-killing capacity. Doctors also feared their addictive properties.

Purdue Pharma set out to overcome that fear, with a massive marketing campaign on behalf of OxyContin, the drug company’s new take on the opioid called oxycodone, a “chemical cousin of heroin” that can be “up to twice as powerful as morphine.” Purdue bankrolled widely circulated research that testified to OxyContin’s safety and urged physicians to prescribe the drug for all sorts of conditions.

The basic point is at the end (and it is quite correct): ¨Purdue bankrolled widely circulated research that testified to OxyContin’s safety and urged physicians to prescribe the drug for all sorts of conditions.¨

And all of these testimonies were major lies: OxyContin is and was extremely addictive, and this has caused ¨
hundreds of thousands of deaths¨, for people who were treated for pain found out after their treatment that they were also seriously addicted.

There is considerably more in this article, that ends as follows:

Behind every great fortune, the French novelist Honoré de Balzac once observed, lurks a crime.

Some crimes kill.

Yes indeed - and Honoré de Balzac´s saying, which I think is quite true, should also be kept in mind when trying to judge other rich men, such as Donald Trump´s father.


[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 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] This meanwhile has changed my opinion about Wikipedia: If you support this manner of totalitarian lies, you are a totalitarian or an idiot. And I fear Wikipedia is in the process of being taken over by groups that pretend to speak ¨an encyclopaedic tone¨ and to speak for ¨a worldwide view¨. Both of which are  utter bullshit: The two criterions to judge any encyclopedia by are (i) does is speak the truth and (ii) is it written in a clear style.

[3] I am sorry, but I have been saying so since March 14, 2016, and by now I insist that almost anybody who disagrees lacks the distinction of having had to study six years in order to become a psychologist, as I have done.

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