July 16, 2018

Crisis: War on Assange, De León, Indictment of Russians, Narcissist Trump, Jimmy Carter


1. Summary
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from July 16, 2018

This is a Nederlog of Monday, July 16, 2018.

1. Summary

This is a crisis log but it is a bit different from how it was until 2013:

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.

2. Crisis Files

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

A. Selections from July 16, 2018:
1. The War on Assange Is a War on Press Freedom
2. Kevin de León Stuns Dianne Feinstein 
3. Indictment of 12 Russians: Under the Shiny Wrapping, a Political Act
4. Yes, Trump Is a Narcissist — But It's Literally A Million Times Worse
     Than That

5. Jimmy Carter: 'Under Trump, the Government is Worse Than It Has
     Been Before'

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 War on Assange Is a War on Press Freedom

This article is by Chris Hedges on Truthdig. It starts as follows:
The failure on the part of establishment media to defend Julian Assange, who has been trapped in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London since 2012, has been denied communication with the outside world since March and appears to be facing imminent expulsion and arrest, is astonishing. The extradition of the publisher—the maniacal goal of the U.S. government—would set a legal precedent that would criminalize any journalistic oversight or investigation of the corporate state. It would turn leaks and whistleblowing into treason. It would shroud in total secrecy the actions of the ruling global elites. If Assange is extradited to the United States and sentenced, The New York Times, The Washington Post and every other media organization, no matter how tepid their coverage of the corporate state, would be subject to the same draconian censorship. Under the precedent set, Donald Trump’s Supreme Court would enthusiastically uphold the arrest and imprisonment of any publisher, editor or reporter in the name of national security.
Well...yes with an additional possibly no. That is, I agree with Hedges that Julian Assange is in very bad problems (also healthwise) and that he seriously needs help, but my ¨possibly no¨ is given by the extension Hedges gives to his conviction that Assange´s expulsion ¨would set a legal precedent that would criminalize any journalistic oversight or investigation of the corporate state. It would turn leaks and whistleblowing into treason. It would shroud in total secrecy the actions of the ruling global elites.¨

Also, I do not deny that Hedges may be correct in his second assumption, but I think (and hope) that the road towards that goal - ¨
Donald Trump’s Supreme Court would enthusiastically uphold the arrest and imprisonment of any publisher, editor or reporter in the name of national security¨ - is more complicated and more difficult than Hedges asserts here.

Here is more:
There are growing signs that the Ecuadorean government of Lenín Moreno is preparing to evict Assange and turn him over to British police. Moreno and his foreign minister, José Valencia, have confirmed they are in negotiations with the British government to “resolve” the fate of Assange. Moreno, who will visit Britain in a few weeks, calls Assange an “inherited problem” and “a stone in the shoe” and has referred to him as a “hacker.” It appears that under a Moreno government Assange is no longer welcome in Ecuador. His only hope now is safe passage to his native Australia or another country willing to give him asylum.
This is probably quite correct - but Assange will very probably be arrested if he steps (or were thrown) outside the Ecuadorian embassy by the British police.

Here is some background:

Assange, who reportedly is in ill health, took asylum in the embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden to answer questions about sexual offense charges. He feared that once in Swedish custody for these charges, which he said were false, he would be extradited to the United States. The Swedish prosecutors’ office ended its “investigation” and extradition request to Britain in May 2017 and did not file sexual offense charges against Assange. But the British government said Assange would nevertheless be arrested and jailed for breaching his bail conditions.

The persecution of Assange is part of a broad assault against anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist news organizations. The ruling elites, who refuse to accept responsibility for profound social inequality or the crimes of empire, have no ideological veneer left to justify their greed, ineptitude and pillage. Global capitalism and its ideological justification, neoliberalism, are discredited as forces for democracy and the equitable distribution of wealth.
I completely agree with the above. Here is more:
The ruling elites no longer have a counterargument to their critics. They have resorted to cruder forms of control. These include censorship, slander and character assassination (which in the case of Assange has sadly been successful), blacklisting, financial strangulation, intimidation, imprisonment under the Espionage Act and branding critics and dissidents as agents of a foreign power and purveyors of fake news. The corporate media amplifies these charges, which have no credibility but which become part of the common vernacular through constant repetition.
Yes - but this suggests (at least) that ¨[t]he corporate media¨ have changed rather a lot, compared with e.g. twenty or forty years ago: It seems they have become totalitarian (except that you cannot say so anymore according to the sick Wikipedia). And I do believe this is correct, in part at least, and basically for two reasons: First, many editors have been changed, while quite a few journalists have been fired or disappeared, and second, because a good part of the mainstream media are ¨branding critics and dissidents as agents of a foreign power and purveyors of fake news¨, and indeed for the totalitarian reason that they are critics or dissidents (except in the sick and degenerate Wikipedia, that follows Brzezinski on its current - utterly false - meaning of ¨totalitarianism¨).

Here is more on the Democratic Party:
The Democratic Party establishment, like the liberal elites in most of the rest of the industrialized world, would be swept from power in an open political process devoid of corporate money. The party elite, including Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi, is a creation of the corporate state. Campaign finance and electoral reform are the last things the party hierarchy intends to champion. It will not call for social and political programs that will alienate its corporate masters. This myopia and naked self-interest may ensure a second term for Donald Trump; it may further empower the lunatic fringe that is loyal to Trump; it may continue to erode the credibility of the political system.
Yes, I agree: As far as I can see most Democratic senators (leaving out Congress) have been bought, it seems mostly by Wall Street, that offered e.g. both Clintons many times $250,000 or $350,000 for (undisclosed) speeches to rich bankers (and the Clintons at present seem to be worth $120 millions, though not only from bankers, while Obama seems to have gathered a $100 million).

Then there is also this, which was another bit of completely
totalitarian propaganda, except that Brzezinski´s mates on the sick Wikipedia deny it:
But it is not only Assange and WikiLeaks that are being attacked as Russian pawns. For example, The Washington Post, which has sided with the Democratic Party in the war against Trump, without critical analysis published a report on a blacklist posted by the anonymous website PropOrNot. The blacklist was composed of 199 sites that PropOrNot alleged, with no evidence, “reliably echo Russian propaganda.” More than half of those sites were far-right, conspiracy-driven ones. But about 20 of the sites were major progressive outlets including AlterNet, Black Agenda Report, Democracy Now!, Naked Capitalism, Truthdig, Truthout, CounterPunch and the World Socialist Web Site. PropOrNot, short for Propaganda or Not, accused these sites of disseminating “fake news” on behalf of Russia.
In addition to offering no evidence, PropOrNot never even disclosed who ran the website. Even so, its charge was used to justify the imposition of algorithms by Google, Facebook, Twitter and Amazon to direct traffic away from the targeted sites.
Precisely - and PropOrNot was a bunch of totalitarian schemers and frauds (but not for the sickened Wikipedia) simply because it gave no evidence whatsoever, and is completely anonymous.

Here is one of Hedges´ conclusions:
If the United States had a public broadcasting system free from corporate money or a commercial press that was not under corporate control, these dissident voices would be included in the mainstream discourse. But we don’t. Howard Zinn, Noam Chomsky, Malcolm X, Sheldon Wolin, Ralph Nader, James Baldwin, Susan Sontag, Angela Davis and Edward Said once appeared regularly on public broadcasting. Now critics like these are banned, replaced with vapid courtiers such as columnist David Brooks.
Precisely - and David Brooks was the person who got the freedom of the New York Times to slander Edward Snowden in 2013 (and writes still for the Times, and still seems a liar, but he is one of the - relatively few - journalists I do not read anymore because they´ve shown themselves to be both totalitarians (but not according to Wikipedia) and liars.

And this from Hedges´ ending:

It is up to us to mobilize to protect Assange. His life is in jeopardy. The Ecuadorean government, violating his fundamental rights, has transformed his asylum into a form of incarceration. By cutting off his access to the internet, it has deprived him of the ability to communicate and follow world events. The aim of this isolation is to pressure Assange out of the embassy so he can be seized by London police, thrown into a British jail and then delivered into the hands of Pompeo, John Bolton and the CIA’s torturer in chief, Gina Haspel.
Yes, I completely agree, and this is a strongly recommended article.

2. Kevin de León Stuns Dianne Feinstein

This article is by David Dayen on The Intercept. It starts as follows:

Longtime California Senator Dianne Feinstein lost the California Democratic Party’s endorsement in a stunning vote Saturday night at the party’s executive board meeting in Oakland. Though the vote was expected to be close, state Senator Kevin de León rather easily crossed the 60 percent threshold necessary for endorsement.

De León secured 65 percent of the vote among the 333 executive board members present. Feinstein garnered 7 percent, and “no endorsement” took 28 percent. De León only took 54 percent of the vote at the state party convention in February. Virtually every undecided vote going into the executive board needed to flip to get this big a number.

I say, for I am quite pleased with this news, that I also did not reckon with. And incidentally: Feinstein started around 1970 as ¨a leftist¨, and has been representing the Democrats or her own fnancial interests for nearly 50 years.

Here´s more by
de León:

“The nation’s most accomplished Democratic Party is leading the call for a new generation of leadership who will fight to advance a bold agenda,” de León said in a statement. “We have presented Californians with the first real alternative to the worn-out Washington playbook in a quarter-century.”

The executive board has grown more and more progressive for a decade, since a new generation of activists secured spots in the party hierarchy. De León proved to have better relationships with party delegates than a senator who spends most of her time in Washington, and little connecting with Democratic activists back home. But the endorsement is also a resounding rejection of Feinstein’s brand of centrist politics, which simply doesn’t mesh well with the party’s most dedicated and plugged-in supporters.

Yes I agree, although I also think this is a relatively small gain in a far wider battle - which seems to be between Democratic ¨representatives¨ who represent their own financial interests much rather than the interests and concerns of the voters that voted them in, and new Democratic representatice who are - as yet, at least - more interested in serving the interests and concerns of their voters. And this is a recommended article. 
3. Indictment of 12 Russians: Under the Shiny Wrapping, a Political Act

This article is by Scott Ritter on Truthout. It starts as follows:

With great fanfare, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein on Friday released a 29-page indictment, a byproduct of the ongoing investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. Ostensibly, this indictment cemented the government’s case against the Russians and punched a hole in the arguments of those, like President Trump, who have been labeling Mueller’s investigation a “witch hunt.” This, of course, is precisely what Rosenstein and Mueller hoped to achieve through their carefully timed, and even more carefully scripted, indictment.
It also comes on the heels of a concerted effort on the part of the president and his political supporters to denigrate the investigation of Mueller and, by extension, the judgment and character of Rosenstein, who, since the recusal of Attorney General Jeff Sessions from the Russian investigation, has been giving Mueller his marching orders.

Yes, this seems all de León true to me. Then again, here is more, for in fact the indictment was hardly an indictment:

There is one major problem with the indictment, however: It doesn’t prove that which it asserts. True, it provides a compelling narrative that reads like a spy novel, and there is no doubt in my mind that many of the technical details related to the timing and functioning of the malware described within are accurate. But the leap of logic that takes the reader from the inner workings of the servers of the Democratic Party to the offices of Russian intelligence officers in Moscow is not backed up by anything that demonstrates how these connections were made.

That’s the point of an indictment, however—it doesn’t exist to provide evidence beyond a reasonable doubt, but rather to provide only enough information to demonstrate probable cause. No one would, or could, be convicted at trial from the information contained in the indictment alone. For that to happen, the government would have to produce the specific evidence linking the hacks to the named Russians, and provide details on how this evidence was collected, and by whom.
And in fact the American government will not give that specific evidence. Or at least, that is Ritter´s convictiom and I agree with him, as I agree with the following:
The assertions set forth in the indictment, while cloaked in the trappings of American justice, have nothing to do with actual justice or the rule of law; they cannot, and will never, be proved in a court of law. However, by releasing them in a manner that suggests that the government is willing to proceed to trial, a perception is created that implies that they can withstand the scrutiny necessary to prevail at trial.
Here is the ending of this article:
This indictment, by any other name, is a political act, and should be treated as such by the American people and the media.
Yes, I agree. And this is a recommended article.

4. Yes, Trump Is a Narcissist — But It's Literally A Million Times Worse Than That

This article is by Faith Gardner on AlterNet and originally on Daily Kos:

Yes, the hallmarks of narcissism are painfully obvious in the president of the United States. The endless projection. The delusion of grandeur masking a paper-thin skin that punctures under the most benign criticisms. The nonstop gaslighting. But you know who else every single one of these attributes describes?

His base.

I say! This means that if The Leader has something, then so have ALL his followers (except of course for The Leader´s special genius).

And it was a bit difficult to check out Faith Gardner, but indeed she is not a psychologist (as I am) but has degrees in education.

Here is more by her:

Trump’s deplorable, unmovable base are cult-like followers who could watch him shoot someone in the middle of Fifth Avenue and still follow him, who give no shits that he is a serial sexual assaulter and defender of molesters, who get fleeced by his tariffs, by his family’s blatant disregard for the emoluments clause, and yet continue to vote for him even when it seemingly serves no interest of their own. Kool-Aid drinkers in the most macabre sense of the metaphor, they will follow him right to hell and never look back. None of it makes any logical sense, until you realize they are serving their own interests. Because none of the details matter if you see yourself in the narcissist delivering the rhetoric that feeds your own sense of narcissism.

But she does not consider one moment the possibility that these followers may be quite stupid or quite ignorant or quite conformistic or be wishful thinkers or hypocrites... no: Faith Gardner knows each and everyone of the followers of the narcissist Trump must be a narcissist, I suppose on the same ¨evidence¨ as each follower of the madman Hitler was a madman.

You doubt it? Here is educationalist Gardner:

Trump’s base is nothing more than a collection of narcissists, and I find this a lot more interesting than the fact that Trump himself is a narcissist. Trump simply represents the abhorrent qualities of his entire base.

All these qualities listed under the narcissistic personality could not only describe Trump, but the party that props him up, and let us count the ways.
And indeed she does, which show that the has read at least one bit of psychology/psychiatry, namely the - psychiatric - definition of narcissism. But then she extends Trump´s characteristics to everyone of the tens of millions who supported Trump, as if this has any plausibility at all.

Here is more on the almost 63 million voters for Trump (ALL of whom are narcissists according to Faith´s logic that extends to the followers what holds for the leader):

I’ve been pondering this, though, from an individual point of view. How are people encouraged to deal with narcissists? You can’t treat them. You can’t teach empathy. You can’t cure them. While many suggestions from many psychologists and self-help experts exist, one of them I come across time and time again in both anecdotes and the interwebs is to sever ties with them. Do not play into their delusions. Do not attempt to argue with them. Call them out, sure—and sever all ties. That, to me, seems like really the only way forward with an entire group of narcissists.

There are almost 63 million Trumpian narcissists according to Gardner. Here is her own utterly totalitarian conclusion (except according to the sick Wikipedia):

There’s no use for logic or empathy when you’re dealing with a delusional sect of a country that is sprinting toward a fascist ‘Merica. It’s not just Trump who is a narcissist beyond help, it’s everyone who still follows him. Do yourself a favor and give them all a view of your gorgeous middle fingers.

I am sorry, but I rather have no articles than utter bullshit like this one.

5. Jimmy Carter: 'Under Trump, the Government is Worse Than It Has Been Before'

This article is by Matthew Rozsa on AlterNet and originally on Salon. It starts as follows:

When speaking with Salon about his famous "Crisis of Confidence" speech, former President Jimmy Carter had this observation about America's current commander-in-chief, Donald Trump.

"I think that under Trump the government is worse than it has been before," Carter explained by email. "This is the first time I remember when the truth is ignored, allies are deliberately aggravated, China, Europe, Mexico and Canada are hurt economically and have to hurt us in response, Americans see the future worse than the present, and immigrants are treated cruelly."

I think Carter is correct, although I am also sure he is far sunnier about the presidents who preceded Trump than I am. And he also said a few things in the second half of the 1970ies (during his presidency) that were interesting.

Here is one of them, from the late 1970ies

In a nation that was proud of hard work, strong families, close-knit communities, and our faith in God, too many of us now tend to worship self-indulgence and consumption. Human identity is no longer defined by what one does, but by what one owns. But we’ve discovered that owning things and consuming things does not satisfy our longing for meaning. We’ve learned that piling up material goods cannot fill the emptiness of lives which have no confidence or purpose.

The symptoms of this crisis of the American spirit are all around us. For the first time in the history of our country a majority of our people believe that the next five years will be worse than the past five years. Two-thirds of our people do not even vote. The productivity of American workers is actually dropping, and the willingness of Americans to save for the future has fallen below that of all other people in the Western world.

I think this is more or less rigth (although I feel quite sure that the majority of Americans has not ¨discovered that owning things and consuming things does not satisfy our longing for meaning¨).

There is some more in the article.


[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 (!!).
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