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Nederlog

October 26, 2018

Crisis: Gorbachev, Trump & The Media, Trump & National Security, Nuclear Arms, On Journalists



Sections
Introduction

1. Summary
2.
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from October 26, 2018
Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Friday, October 26, 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 26, 2018:
1. Mikhail Gorbachev: A New Nuclear Arms Race Has Begun
2. Trump Blames Media for Inciting “Anger” After Bombs Sent to CNN &
     High-Profile Democrats

3. President Trump Is the Greatest Threat to National Security
4. Trump's Plan to Abandon Nuclear Arms Pact Rattles Experts
5. Political Journalists Need to Stop Stifling Their Outrage
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. Mikhail Gorbachev: A New Nuclear Arms Race Has Begun

This article is by Michael Gorbachev on The New York Times. It starts as follows:

Over 30 years ago, President Ronald Reagan and I signed in Washington the United States-Soviet Treaty on the elimination of intermediate- and shorter-range missiles. For the first time in history, two classes of nuclear weapons were to be eliminated and destroyed.

This was a first step. It was followed in 1991 by the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, which the Soviet Union signed with President George H.W. Bush, our agreement on radical cuts in tactical nuclear arms, and the New Start Treaty, signed by the presidents of Russia and the United States in 2010.

There are still too many nuclear weapons in the world, but the American and Russian arsenals are now a fraction of what they were during the Cold War. At the Nuclear Nonproliferation Review Conference in 2015, Russia and the United States reported to the international community that 85 percent of those arsenals had been decommissioned and, for the most part, destroyed.

Today, this tremendous accomplishment, of which our two nations can be rightfully proud, is in jeopardy. President Trump announced last week the United States’ plan to withdraw from the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty and his country’s intention to build up nuclear arms.

Quite so - and for those of my readers who may be too young to recall Michael Gorbachev: He was the last leader of the Soviet Union, which stopped existing 36 years ago in 1991/1992.

Here is some more:

As a pretext for the withdrawal from the I.N.F. Treaty, the United States invoked Russia’s alleged violations of some of the treaty’s provisions. Russia has raised similar concerns regarding American compliance, at the same time proposing to discuss the issues at the negotiating table to find a mutually acceptable solution. But over the past few years, the United States has been avoiding such discussion. I think it is now clear why.

With enough political will, any problems of compliance with the existing treaties could be resolved. But as we have seen during the past two years, the president of the United States has a very different purpose in mind. It is to release the United States from any obligations, any constraints, and not just regarding nuclear missiles.

The United States has in effect taken the initiative in destroying the entire system of international treaties and accords that served as the underlying foundation for peace and security following World War II.

Yet I am convinced that those who hope to benefit from a global free-for-all are deeply mistaken. There will be no winner in a “war of all against all” — particularly if it ends in a nuclear war. And that is a possibility that cannot be ruled out. An unrelenting arms race, international tensions, hostility and universal mistrust will only increase the risk.

Yes. I think Gorbachev is quite right when he says:

But as we have seen during the past two years, the president of the United States has a very different purpose in mind. It is to release the United States from any obligations, any constraints, and not just regarding nuclear missiles.

The United States has in effect taken the initiative in destroying the entire system of international treaties and accords that served as the underlying foundation for peace and security following World War II.

And this is a strongly recommended article.

2. Trump Blames Media for Inciting “Anger” After Bombs Sent to CNN & High-Profile Democrats

This article is by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! It starts with the following introduction:
Federal authorities have launched an investigation after pipe bombs were sent to a number of prominent Democrats, all critics of President Trump. The targets identified include President Obama, Hillary Clinton, George Soros, former Attorney General Eric Holder, Congressmember Maxine Waters and former CIA Director John Brennan. The packages listed Democratic Congressmember Debbie Wasserman Schultz as the return address. Police are also investigating a suspicious package sent to former Vice President Joe Biden and a suspicious package found today at actor Robert De Niro’s restaurant in New York. On Wednesda CNN was forced to evacuate its New York office after it received what police described as a “live explosive device” along with a container of white powder. It came in a package addressed to Brennan. All of the targets have been vilified by President Trump in the past. Authorities said it remains unclear if the devices were operable bombs or designed to look like bombs. No one has been hurt by the devices. We speak to former FBI agent Mike German and Chapman University professor Pete Simi, who has studied political violence for decades.
Yes indeed - and I could have used quite a few other articles that report about the same facts, but this was the briefest and the clearest.

Then again, I will not quote German or Simi (read the article if you want to read them) but have one last bit from Amy Goodman:

AMY GOODMAN: At the Wisconsin rally, President Trump did not name any of the Democrats targeted.

Earlier this morning, Trump went on Twitter, quote, and wrote, “A very big part of the Anger we see today in our society is caused by the purposely false and inaccurate reporting of the Mainstream Media that I refer to as Fake News. It has gotten so bad and hateful that it is beyond description. Mainstream Media must clean up its act, FAST!” said Trump.

Trump has a long record of attacking CNN and inciting violence. Last year, he tweeted a video showing him tackling and punching a figure with a CNN logo over its face. On Wednesday, CNN President Jeff Zucker blasted President Trump, saying, quote, “There is a total and complete lack of understanding at the White House about the seriousness of their continued attacks on the media. The President, and especially the White House Press Secretary, should understand their words matter. Thus far, they have shown no comprehension of that,” Zucker said.

First about Trump´s degenerate lies:

“A very big part of the Anger we see today in our society is caused by the purposely false and inaccurate reporting of the Mainstream Media that I refer to as Fake News. It has gotten so bad and hateful that it is beyond description. Mainstream Media must clean up its act, FAST!”

What should I say about this? In my psychologist´s eyes he is an obvious madman and an obvious neofascist, but then most people are not psychologists and have no rational ideas whatsoever about neofascism.

I could go quite a lot further, but shall not do so.

Next about Zucker´s:
“There is a total and complete lack of understanding at the White House about the seriousness of their continued attacks on the media. The President, and especially the White House Press Secretary, should understand their words matter. Thus far, they have shown no comprehension of that”
No! Trump knows what he is doing: He is trying to destroy the media, and Zucker does not seem to understand that. And this is a recommended article.

3. President Trump Is the Greatest Threat to National Security

This article is by Amy Goodman and Denis Moynihan on Truthdig. It starts as follows:
President Donald Trump is a threat to national security. His lies rev people up, inspiring hate. A slew of bombs have been discovered this week, targeting people and organizations Trump regularly vilifies: the Obamas, the Clintons, Congressmember Maxine Waters, CNN, ex-CIA chief John Brennan, former Attorney General Eric Holder and billionaire liberal philanthropist George Soros. While Trump fabricates national security concerns to foment fear, he ignores genuine threats.
This is an ordinary article rather than an interview, and the first thing I notice about the above quotation from it is that it is far more sensible (and credible!) than Zucker´s ¨I don´t understand the president does not understand¨: He does.

Here is more:
“To abandon facts is to abandon freedom,” writes Yale historian Timothy Snyder in his book “On Tyranny.” In the past few weeks, nothing illustrated this better than the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, Washington Post columnist and critic of the Saudi monarchy. On Oct. 2, Khashoggi walked into the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul and never came out. The Saudi government lied, saying he had left soon after. Reports almost immediately surfaced that Saudi Arabia had dispatched a 15-man “kill team,” which tortured, killed and dismembered Khashoggi in the consulate. Rather than denounce the murder immediately, Trump declared he would await Saudi Arabia’s investigation of itself, but would not cut record weapons sales to the kingdom. Saudi Arabia is waging a war on Yemen, and its relentless, U.S.-backed bombing has driven at least half of the Yemeni population to the brink of famine. The United Nations has declared Yemen to be the greatest humanitarian catastrophe on the planet today.
Quite so, but I´ll explain Snyder´s “To abandon facts is to abandon freedom”.

First, I think this is a little too brief: I think he should have inserted behind ¨facts¨ ¨in politics¨ or something similar, simply because we may abandon facts in quite a few non-factual fields, like literature, films and fantasies, for example.

Second, those who abandon facts, abandon truths; those who abandon truths have only fantasies to appeal to; and this is especially dangerous in politics because the lies will remain, and will be supported by the power and the wealth of those who support the lies because they have an interest in their outcomes (usually monetary).

Here is more:
To the shock of many, at another rally this week, Trump officially declared himself a nationalist — a label long associated with white supremacy and Nazism. “You know, they have a word — it’s sort of became old-fashioned — it’s called a nationalist. And I say, really, we’re not supposed to use that word. You know what I am? I’m a nationalist, OK? I’m a nationalist. Nationalist.”
Probably Trump spoke the truth (which is fairly rare in his case), although he would have been more honest if he had simply said ¨I´m a fascist¨. In any case, if you do want some background on nationalism, I recommend George Orwell´s ¨Notes on Nationalism¨ which was written in 1945 and can be found in his Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters, and which contains this (and a lot more):
¨By nationalism I mean first of all the habits of assuming that human beings can be classified like insects and that whole blocks of millions of people can be confidently labelled ´good´ or ´bad´. But secondly - and this is much more important - I mean the habit of identifying oneself with a single nation or other unit, placing it beyond good and evil and recognizing no other duty than that of advancing its interests.¨
And this rather precisely describes Trump´s intentions, although the above was written in 1945, before Trump was born.

Here is the last bit that I quite from this article:
As Trump campaigns around the country, he gins up fears of foreign enemies attacking the United States. But he has shown again and again, through his words and deeds, that the greatest threat to U.S. national security is Trump himself.
I agree, and this is a strongly recommended article.

4. Trump's Plan to Abandon Nuclear Arms Pact Rattles Experts

This article is by Jessica Corbett on Truthdig and originally 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.

Quite so. Here is more:

“By declaring he will leave the INF Treaty, President Trump has shown himself to be a demolition man who has no ability to build real security,” responded Beatrice Fihn, executive director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons. “Instead, by blowing up nuclear treaties he is taking the U.S. down a trillion dollar road to a new nuclear arms race.”

Yes. Here is Trump:

(...) 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 our military.”

“We are going to terminate the agreement and we are going to develop the weapons. If we get smart and if others get smart, and say ‘Let’s not develop these horrible nuclear weapons,’ I would be extremely happy with that,” he added. “But as long as somebody’s violating that agreement then we’re not going to be the only ones to adhere to it.”

In fact, Trump should have kept the agreement and should have insisted on all parties adhering to it. He did not, and two probable reasons are that Russia is a lot poorer than it was, while Trump is preparing for a nuclear war (which is madness, but as a psychologist I am quite convinced that Trump is mad).

Here is more:

As the Guardian reported: (...)

“This is the most severe crisis in nuclear arms control since the 1980s,” said Malcolm Chalmers, the deputy director general of the Royal United Services Institute. “If the INF treaty collapses, and with the New Start treaty on strategic arms due to expire in 2021, the world could be left without any limits on the nuclear arsenals of nuclear states for the first time since 1972.”

Precisely. Here is the last bit 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,” Bell added. “Now it will ask you to fund a nuclear arms race.
Alexandra Bell is quite correct, and this is a recommended article. 
5. Political Journalists Need to Stop Stifling Their Outrage

This article is by Dan Froomkin on Common Dreams and originally on White House Watch. It starts as follows:

It’s nice that the Washington Post and the New York Times the other day both ran articles pointing out that Donald Trump’s main strategy in the midterm elections is to traffic in fear and falsehoods.

It’s nice that PBS Newshour had the Toronto Star’s must-follow Trump-tracker Daniel Dale on the other night, patiently explaining to Judy “we call them false statements” Woodruff that “in our regular lives, I think the word we would use is lie. So, I think we as journalists should use it in our articles as well.”

All that fact-checking out there sure is fine, especially when it comes online while the lie is still young.

And the overall tone of Trump coverage from our top newsrooms has clearly become more skeptical over time.

But it’s all still a wildly understated reaction to a presidency that is an affront to so many core American – and journalistic – values.

Let’s be real: The vast majority of political journalists have been stifling their outrage ever since Donald Trump became a plausible candidate for president.

But by stifling that outrage, they have done a grave disservice to their audiences and to country.

Well... I agree with the beginning of the above quote, but I do not know about its end, and one reason is that Froomkin does not distinguish between the mainstream or corporatist media and the non-mainstream media, which is a mistake, I think.

Here is more (and here the mainstream media are mentioned):

By responding normally, they have unwittingly sent the message that what is going on is within the realm of the normal, when it is not.

They have let Trump widen the boundaries of socially acceptable discourse to include poisonous strains of overt racism, xenophobia and misogyny.

They have failed to defend against the erosion of democratic institutions.

Trump played the mainstream media for fools. He knew political journalists would be paralyzed into stenography by their phobia of appearing politically biased. He knew — he still knows — that every time he makes a preposterous statement, they’ll give him a megaphone, rather than a dunce cap.

Probably Froomkin is more or less right about the mainstream media, but he may forget that (i) Trump´s winning the presidency was unexpected, and that (ii) about half of the American voters voted for Trump, while also (iii) that half seems to consist of many stupid and ignorant people.

Then there is this:

“The erosion of democratic institutions — not just the press but all of them” is a key element of Trump’s political movement, Rosen said. “I don’t think our journalists have learned how to angle their work so they can defend democratic institutions, and they probably need to at this point because it’s getting so bad.”

Possibly so. Here is more:

So how would justifiable outrage manifest itself? Every time Trump is being deceptive, the main thrust of the story should be the truth, not the lie. The story should vividly illustrate how wrong he is. It should point out how no president before has ever lied this much.

Journalists should not shy away from expressing their own informed conclusions about what is true and what is not. Many stories should include quotes from experts in their field — who are treated as trusted sources who know what they’re talking about, not marginalized as “critics.”

When Trump lies in a tweet about wanting to protect people with pre-existing conditions, that’s a great time to write about how the opposite is true. When he lies about wanting a middle class tax cut, that’s a great time to write about how he lied about last year’s massive tax cut for the rich.

I think the above is more or less correct - but I don´t see it happening in the mainstream media.

The article ends as follows:

Do half of Americans consciously and intentionally reject what I still think of as core American values? For now, I’m going to continue to hope that it’s an aberration — a fluke of history — that journalists can help reverse.

First of all, it is not ¨half of Americans¨ who supported Trump in the elections, but between 1/4th and 1/3rd. Second, many of these do not ¨consciously and intentionally reject¨ ¨core American values¨ but probably either have no notion what these could be or believe Trump´s lies.

And finally, I think (mainstream) political journalists should not so much unleash their outrage (which seems anyway difficult or impossible in a mainstream journal) as attempt to write the truth rather than propaganda.


Note

[1] I have now been saying since the end of 2015 that xs4all.nl is systematically ruining my site by NOT updating it within a few seconds, as it did between 1996 and 2015, but by updating it between two to seven days later, that is, if I am lucky.

They have claimed that my site was wrongly named in html: A lie. They have claimed that my operating system was out of date: A lie.

And they just don't care for my site, my interests, my values or my ideas. They have behaved now for 2 years as if they are the eagerly willing instruments of the US's secret services, which I will from now on suppose they are (for truth is dead in Holland).

The only two reasons I remain with xs4all is that my site has been there since 1996, and I have no reasons whatsoever to suppose that any other Dutch provider is any better (!!).
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