October 22, 2018

Crisis: ´War on Terror´, Fascism Rising, Nuclear Arms, Trump´s Great Economy, ¨Russia-gate¨


1. Summary
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from October 22, 2018

This is a Nederlog of Monday, October 22, 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 October 22, 2018:
1. The Disastrous 'War on Terror' Has Come Home
2. Billionaire-Funded Fascism Is Rising in America
3. Experts Sound the Alarm After Trump Plans to Ditch Nuclear Arms
     Control Treaty With Russia

4. Here's the Truth About Trump's 'Great Economy'
5. Report Says Russia-gaters Should Go Quietly in the Night
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 Disastrous 'War on Terror' Has Come Home

This article is by Robert Scheer on Truthdig. It starts as follows:

French theorist Michel Foucault saw the writing on the wall. In his 1975 book, “Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison,” which drew on the work of the English philosopher Jeremy Bentham, he introduced the social theory of “panopticism” to explain, at least in part, how surveillance functions as a system of power.

Today, we are very much living in a tech panopticon—one in which our purchasing habits, individual data and even physical movements can be tracked without our knowledge. What does this mean for the future of personal privacy? How has the “war on terror” radically altered the ways we fight crime, and in what ways might the state use the increasingly sophisticated tools at its disposal to abuse its authority?

I don´t like Foucault (and I am a philosopher, in fact more so than a psychologist, but then I became a psychologist because I was thrown out of the philosophy department of the ¨University¨ of Amsterdam and was denied the right to take an M.A. in philosophy - and I was almost ready - because I had criticized the totally incompetent ¨philosophers¨ that ¨taught¨ philosophy in the ¨University¨) but yes: Foucault was right about the panopticon.

And Scheer is quite right that ¨we are very much living in a tech panopticon—one in which our purchasing habits, individual data and even physical movements can be tracked without our knowledge¨.

As to ¨What does this mean for the future of personal privacy?¨: Personal privacy is totally dead. Your national security service (of any country) knows far more of your life, opinions, vaues, ideas and friends than you can recall.

Here is more on how the American police is changing itself, in secret of course, to arrest those who may plan a crime or indeed whose political values are too critical of the government, but this is also secret:

RS: Some of the estimates I’ve seen, it is highly secretive, of course, but about 50 different police departments in the United States are using the services of something called The LASER Program, which stands for, believe it or not, L.A. Strategic Extraction and Restoration. It’s basically data mining, trying to use artificial intelligence to figure out who are the bad guys are, how to do selective policing and there’s another program here in LA that’s also a national called PredPol which tries to do. … Both of these groups are basically aiming at something called predictive policing. The whole idea is to more effectively use police resources and using with data mining, the kind that use all the data we have on the Internet and to be more targeting.

And here is the person Scheer interviews, ¨Jamie Garcia of the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition¨:

JG: I think that’s a really important point because what we’re looking at is presumption of guilt, assigned criminality before anything happens. That concept really takes us back to post 9/11. Looking at the 9/11 Commission, where Congress really wanted to set up a way to make domestic law enforcement the eyes and ears of the federal government, So they can prevent something from happening. And I think that’s a really important concept for us to look at when we think about predictive policing because predictive policing is about data gathering. And it’s about data analysis, and it’s trying to find where that crime’s going to happen and who’s going to commit it before it actually occurs. But in some sense the Department of Justice, our federal government needed to set a landscape in order for that to occur, in order for people to buy into it. Then you mentioned this war on terror, and I think one of the guiding principles in the coalition is that there’s always an other.

Garcia puts her finger precisely on how crime fighting changed from arresting people who had committed a crime to arresting people who plan to commit what is claimed to be a crime or indeed arresting those whose political values and ideas clash with those of the (secret) police or the goverment.

And as I have said many time by now: All of this was already planned in the late 1960ies by the then head of national security, Zbignew Brzezinski, who also was quite clear this was a totally new approach to crime and criminality, which would be made possible by the internet, where anybody will be tracked and all his data stored by national security. For more, see here.

Here is some more by Robert Scheer:

RS: If I could just stop you for a minute, I mean I just want to … There’s something so weirdly Orwellian about this and the use of language and what have you. It masks the absurdity of it. Because as far as I know there’s no evidence of gang kids or gang people in Los Angeles being hijackers of airplanes that blow up the World Trade Center. This is technology that was developed in Iraq and Afghanistan. To get ISIS, to get terrorists of, and so forth. Then somehow it’s made available to local police departments free of charge, taxpayers pay for it. Federal money goes into it and then some companies get really super wealthy. People become billionaires as a result and why are you looking at gangs in LA if you’re trying to get international terrorists? What is the connection between the Bloods the Crips and ISIS? There is no connection. What there is is a connection of the military industrial complex. You can make a lot of money saying, “Hey, we’re going to use this new technology and go after these people.”

Yes, but I think it is even worse: The national security of anywhere wants to know everything anybody thinks, writes, or says, and with the internet they have the panopticon which provides all of that, in full secret as well. And they have been busy collecting information on everyone for 17 years now.

And again, for more see Brzezinski planning the terrorism of all by the national security back in the late 1960ies - and mind you: Everything he planned was realized.

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

RS: This is a spying operation on your citizens. This is intimidating, okay? How is this list compiled? We know they have access to CIA data, to NSA data, to FBI. They are funded, I have to mention over and over again here, this LASER operation was started as a CIA operation, In-Q-Tel funded it, then Palantir grew out of that. For the first three years Palantir had only one customer, the CIA. So now here in Los Angeles, there’s this organization, Palantir, and they’re figuring out which one of us citizens here, or non-citizens, residents, are the tumor that they have to get rid of. Are they relying on NSA data or are they relying on CIA? They’re relying on police work. You have, in fact, a national police presence deciding who are the suspect citizens. What do they base it on?

We don’t know what’s in their algorithm. Is it that maybe you give a speech, or you hand out a leaflet, or you try to organize. I think this is an incredibly intimidating exercise (...)

Yes. The brief of it is that the internet = the panopticon, and the panopticon is in the exclusive use of the national security (almost totally secret) that works for the government. Everything necessary for a total tyranny has been molded and designed by the internet, and was planned already in the late 1960ies. See here, again. And this is a strongly recommended article in which there is much more.

2. Billionaire-Funded Fascism Is Rising in America

This article is by Thom Hartmann on Truthdig and originally on the Independent Media Institute. I just found out that I did review this article on October 18 (with a different title) but since this was a very good article I simply reproduce the review:

The billionaire fascists are coming for your Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. And they’re openly bragging about it.

Right after Trump’s election, back in December of 2016, Newt Gingrich openly bragged at the Heritage Foundation that the Trump administration and Republicans in Congress were going to “break out of the Franklin Delano Roosevelt model.” That “model,” of course, created what we today refer to as “the middle class.”

This week Mitch McConnell confirmed Gingrich’s prophecy, using the huge deficits created by Trump’s billionaire tax cuts as an excuse to destroy “entitlement” programs.

“I think it would be safe to say that the single biggest disappointment of my time in Congress has been our failure to address the entitlement issue, and it’s a shame, because now the Democrats are promising Medicare for All,” McConnell told Bloomberg. He added, “[W]e’re talking about Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid.”

These programs, along with free public education and progressive taxation, are the core drivers and maintainers of the American middle class. History shows that without a strong middle class, democracy itself collapses, and fascism is the next step down a long and terrible road.

Yes - I think all of this is correct, although I would have spoken rather of the billionaire neofascists, but then again - as I also explained yesterday - so far I have not even seen a journalist who defined fascism, although the present article does come close.

Here is more:

In July of 2015, discussing SCOTUS’s 5 to 4 conservative vote on Citizens United, President Jimmy Carter told me: “It violates the essence of what made America a great country in its political system. Now it’s just an oligarchy with unlimited political bribery…” He added: “[W]e’ve just seen a complete subversion of our political system as a payoff to major contributors…”

As Princeton researchers Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page demonstrated in an exhaustive analysis of the difference between what most Americans want their politicians to do legislatively, versus what American politicians actually do, it’s pretty clear that President Carter was right.

They found that while the legislative priorities of the top 10 percent of Americans are consistently made into law, things the bottom 90 percent want are ignored. In other words, today in America, democracy only “works” for the top 10 percent of Americans.

I think this is quite correct as well, and incidentally the 90 vs 10 percent agrees with my own estimates on how power and riches are divided in the USA.

Here is something about happiness that is quite important:

Smith noted, in 1759, that, “All constitutions of government are valued only in proportion as they tend to promote the happiness of those who live under them. This is their sole use and end.”

Smith added a cautionary note, however: “[The] disposition to admire, and almost to worship, the rich and the powerful, and to despise, or, at least, to neglect persons of poor and mean condition… is the great and most universal cause of the corruption of our moral sentiments.”

Jefferson was acutely aware of this: the Declaration of Independence was the first founding document of any nation in the history of the world that explicitly declared “happiness” as a “right” that should be protected and promoted by government against predations by the very wealthy.

Yes, this is correct (and there is more on power and happiness in my Philosophical Dictionary, especially under happiness).

Then there is this, which also seems correct:

History shows that the two primary regulators within a capitalist system that provide for the emergence of a middle class are progressive taxation and a healthy social safety net.

As Jefferson noted in a 1785 letter to Madison, “Another means of silently lessening the inequality of property is to exempt all from taxation below a certain point, and to tax the higher portions of property in geometrical progression as they rise.”
Tragically, Republicans are today planning to destroy both our nation’s progressive taxation system and our social safety net, in obsequious service to their billionaire paymasters.

Yes, quite so. Also, considering the history of Holland, that I know best because I am Dutch, it seems to me as if the Dutch middle class became real only in the 20th Century: Before that, there was roughly the same distinction between the 10% and the 90%, but with this difference that virtually everybody in the 90% was poor to very poor.

Then there is this about fascism:

“The really dangerous American fascists,” Wallace wrote, “are not those who are hooked up directly or indirectly with the Axis. The FBI has its finger on those. ... The American fascist would prefer not to use violence. His method is to poison the channels of public information.

“With a fascist the problem is never how best to present the truth to the public,” Wallace continued, “but how best to use the news to deceive the public into giving the fascist and his group more money or more power.”

In this, Wallace was using the classic definition of the word “fascist”—the definition Mussolini had in mind when he claimed to have invented the word.

As the 1983 American Heritage Dictionary noted, fascism is: “A system of government that exercises a dictatorship of the extreme right, typically through the merging of state and business leadership, together with belligerent nationalism.”

I think this is the first (!!!) more or less reasonable definition of fascism that I´ve read in a journalistic article. I also think that my definition is better, but then that consists of ten criterions rather than three, as the American Heritage Dictionary did.

Here is more:

In his strongest indictment of the tide of fascism the vice president of the United States saw rising in America, he added:

“They claim to be super-patriots, but they would destroy every liberty guaranteed by the Constitution. They demand free enterprise, but are the spokesmen for monopoly and vested interest. Their final objective, toward which all their deceit is directed, is to capture political power so that using the power of the State and the power of the market simultaneously they may keep the common man in eternal subjection.”

In the election of 2018, we stand at a crossroad that Roosevelt and Wallace only imagined.

Billionaire-funded fascism is rising in America, calling itself “conservativism” and “Trumpism.”

Quite so. Here is the last bit that I quote from this fine article:

If Trump and the billionaire fascists who bankroll the Republicans succeed in destroying the last supports for America’s enfeebled middle class, including Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid—and succeed in blocking any possibility of Medicare for All or free college and trade school—not only will the bottom 90 percent of Americans suffer, but what little democracy we have left in this republic will evaporate.

Again, quite so. And this is a very strongly recommended article.

3. Experts Sound the Alarm After Trump Plans to Ditch Nuclear Arms Control Treaty With Russia

This article is by Jessica Corbett on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:

Concerns are mounting after President Donald Trump confirmed on Saturday that he will withdraw from a Cold War-era nuclear arms control treaty with Russia following reports that National Security Adviser John Bolton had been pushing the plan behind closed doors despite warnings from experts that ditching the agreement "would be reckless and stupid."

The Guardian had reported Friday that Bolton and an ally in the White House have been working to convince members of the administration to support the United States withdrawing from the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces treaty (INF) on the grounds that Russia is violating it. Nuclear arms control experts and others rapidly responded with alarm. Many agreed that Russia's alleged violation "merits a strong response" but noted a withdrawal could alienate European allies and raise the chances of armed conflict.

Yes, although I do like to point out that ¨intermediate-range nuclear forces¨ are far more dangerous to Russia than to the USA, for the simple reason that a great part of Russia is surrounded by countries that very often have USA troops quartered in them, while this is not at all true of the USA.

Here is more Trump:

While claiming he would be receptive if both Russia and China concluded, "'Let's all of us get smart and let's none of us develop those weapons," under current circumstances, Trump appears hellbent on making more weapons. "If Russia's doing it and if China's doing it and we're adhering to the agreement, that's unacceptable," he said. "So we have a tremendous amount of money to play with with our military."

"We are going to terminate the agreement and we are going to develop the weapons."
The real point is the last sentence. Here is the last part that I quote from this article:

Responding to the developments in a series of tweets, Alexandra Bell, a former senior arms control official at the State Department who is now at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, said: "Trump says that he is abandoning the INF treaty, basically confirms a renewed arms race, and absolves himself from any responsibility to lead efforts to reduce nuclear tensions around the globe."

"This administration has damaged, perhaps irreparably, an int'l order that has served U.S. interests for decades, turned a blind eye to catastrophic climate change, corroded our govt, [and] poisoned our national discourse," she added. "Now it will ask you to fund a nuclear arms race. #VoteThemOut"

Quite so. And this is a recommended article. 
4. Here's the Truth About Trump's 'Great Economy'

This article is by Robert Reich on AlterNet and originally on his site. This is from not far after the beginning:

Trump slashed taxes on the wealthy and promised everyone else a $4,000 wage boost. But the boost never happened. That’s a big reason why Republicans aren’t campaigning on their tax cut, which is just about their only legislative accomplishment.

Trump and congressional Republicans refuse to raise the minimum wage, stuck at $7.25 an hour. Trump’s Labor Department is also repealing a rule that increased the number of workers entitled to time-and-a-half for overtime.

Yes, unemployment is down to 3.7 percent. But jobs are less secure than ever. Contract workers – who aren’t eligible for family or medical leave, unemployment insurance, the minimum wage, or worker’s compensation – are now doing one out of every five jobs in America.

Quite so. Here is more:

Meanwhile, housing costs are skyrocketing, with Americans now paying a third or more of their paychecks in rent or mortgages.

Trump’s response? Drastic cuts in low-income housing. His Secretary of Housing and Urban Development also wants to triple the rent paid by poor households in subsidized housing.

Healthcare costs continues to rise faster than inflation. Trump’s response? Undermine the Affordable Care Act. Over the past two years, some 4 million people have lost healthcare coverage, according to a survey by the Commonwealth Fund.

Pharmaceutical costs are also out of control. Trump’s response? Allow the biggest pharmacist, CVS, to merge with the one of the biggest health insurers, Aetna — creating a behemoth with the power to raise prices even further.

Quite so. Here is the ending of this article:

Too often, discussions about “the economy” focus on overall statistics about growth, the stock market, and unemployment.

But most Americans don’t live in that economy. They live in a personal economy that has more to do with wages, job security, commutes to and from work, and the costs of housing, healthcare, drugs, education, and home insurance.

These are the things that hit closest home. They comprise the typical American’s standard of living.

Instead of an “economic boom,” most Americans are experiencing declines in all these dimensions of their lives.

Trump isn’t solely responsible. Some of these trends predated his presidency. But he hasn’t done anything to reverse them.

If anything, he’s made them far worse.

And again quite so. This is a strongly recommended article.

5. Report Says Russia-gaters Should Go Quietly in the Night

This article is by Caitlin Johnstone on Consortium News. It starts as follows:
In a new article titled “Mueller report PSA: Prepare for disappointment”, Politico cites information provided by defense attorneys and “more than 15 former government officials with investigation experience spanning Watergate to the 2016 election case” to warn everyone who’s been lighting candles at their Saint Mueller altars that their hopes of Trump being removed from office are about to be dashed to the floor.

“While [Mueller is] under no deadline to complete his work, several sources tracking the investigation say the special counsel and his team appear eager to wrap up,” Politico reports.
So that’s it then. An obscene amount of noise and focus, a few indictments and process crime convictions which have nothing to do with Russian collusion, and this three-ring circus of propaganda and delusion is ready to call it a day.
I think this is probably correct, and I have been saying myself that I did not believe that Russia - somehow - gave the elections to Trump, though they did some spying, but then almost every country these days seems to spy on some countries (and to store all data it can about anyone who lives in that country): see item 1.

Also, here is a point about impeachments that many do not seem to know: Supposing Trump to be successfully impeached (which is so far quite unlikely), his next four replacements are about as bad as Trump, politically and morally, at least, although they probably are not also insane.

Here is some more:
This is by far the clearest indication yet that the Mueller investigation will end with Trump still in office and zero proof of collusion with the Russian government, which has been obvious since the beginning to everyone who isn’t a complete moron. For two years the idiotic, fact-free, xenophobic Russia-gate conspiracy theory has been ripping through mainstream American consciousness with shrieking manic hysteria, sucking all oxygen out of the room for legitimate criticisms of the actual awful things that the US president is doing in real life. Those of us who have been courageous and clear-headed enough to stand against the groupthink have been shouted down, censored, slandered and smeared as assets of the Kremlin on a daily basis by unthinking consumers of mass media propaganda, despite our holding the philosophically unassailable position of demanding the normal amount of proof that would be required in a post-Iraq invasion world.
I think this is mostly correct. Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:
As I predicted long ago, “Mueller isn’t going to find anything in 2017 that these vast, sprawling networks wouldn’t have found in 2016. He’s not going to find anything by ‘following the money’ that couldn’t be found infinitely more efficaciously via Orwellian espionage. The factions within the intelligence community that were working to sabotage the incoming administration last year would have leaked proof of collusion if they’d had it. They did not have it then, and they do not have it now. Mueller will continue finding evidence of corruption throughout his investigation, since corruption is to DC insiders as water is to fish, but he will not find evidence of collusion to win the 2016 election that will lead to Trump’s impeachment. It will not happen.” This has remained as true in 2018 as it did in 2017, and it will remain true forever.

None of the investigations arising from the Russia-gate conspiracy theory have turned up a single shred of evidence that Donald Trump colluded with the Russian government to rig the 2016 election, or to do anything else for that matter.
Yes, and I especially agree with this bit: ¨The factions within the intelligence community that were working to sabotage the incoming administration last year would have leaked proof of collusion if they’d had it.¨ And this is a recommended 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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