January 4, 2019

Crisis: NBC/MSNBC Journalism, The "War on Terror", House Democrats, Impeachment, Nader


1. Summary
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from January 4, 2019

This is a Nederlog of Friday, January 4, 2019. 

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 three 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 January 4, 2019:
1. Veteran NBC/MSNBC Journalist Blasts the Network
2. The Collapse of the ‘War on Terror’ Paradigm

3. What to Expect of House Democrats

4. 'Trump Is Guilty':  Renewed Push to Impeach President

5. It’s Your Congress, People! Make It Work for You!
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. Veteran NBC/MSNBC Journalist Blasts the Network

This article is by Glenn Greenwald on The Intercept. I abbreviated the title. It starts as follows:

A veteran national security journalist with NBC News and MSNBC blasted the networks in a Monday email for becoming captive and subservient to the national security state, reflexively pro-war in the name of stopping President Donald Trump, and now the prime propaganda instrument of the War Machine’s promotion of militarism and imperialism. As a result of NBC/MSNBC’s all-consuming militarism, he said, “the national security establishment not only hasn’t missed a beat but indeed has gained dangerous strength” and “is ever more autonomous and practically impervious to criticism.”

The NBC/MSNBC reporter, William Arkin, is a longtime prominent war and military reporter, perhaps best known for his groundbreaking, three-part Washington Post series in 2010, co-reported with two-time Pulitzer winner Dana Priest, on how sprawling, unaccountable, and omnipotent the national security state has become in the post-9/11 era. When that three-part investigative series, titled “Top Secret America,” was published, I hailed it as one of the most important pieces of reporting of the war on terror, because while “we chirp endlessly about the Congress, the White House, the Supreme Court, the Democrats and Republicans, this is the Real U.S. Government:  functioning in total darkness, beyond elections and parties, so secret, vast and powerful that it evades the control or knowledge of any one person or even any organization.”

I say, because I did not know any of the above, that I also consider somewhat hopeful, even if Arkin is one of the few (ex-NBC/MSNBC) who really has criticized "the national security state".
And I also missed the article of 2010 that Greenwald praises above (because I was at that time in 2010 mostly concerned with ME/CFS).

But I do agree with Greenwald on its importance and also on the fact that "the Real U.S. Government" is "
so secret, vast and powerful that it evades the control or knowledge of any one person or even any organization" (though it still does have many of the features that Eisenhower seems to have meant with his "military-industrial complex").

Here is some more from the article:

Arkin has worked with NBC and MSNBC over the years and continuously since 2016. But yesterday, he announced that he was leaving the network in a long, emphatic email denouncing the networks for their superficial and reactionary coverage of national security, for becoming fixated on trivial Trump outbursts of the day to chase profit and ratings, and — most incriminating of all — for becoming the central propaganda arm of the CIA, the Pentagon, and the FBI in the name of #Resistance, thus inculcating an entire new generation of liberals, paying attention to politics for the first time in the Trump era, to “lionize” those agencies and their policies of imperialism and militarism.

I also did not know any of the above. I do agree mostly with it, and indeed do not believe in the so-called "#Resistance" since the beginning of 2017, and also agree with Greenwald that NBC/ MSNBC and the "#Resistance" seem more like "the central propaganda arm of the CIA, the Pentagon, and the FBI" than real and objective news.

Here is some more:

MSNBC’s star national security reporter Ken Dilanian was widely mocked by media outlets for years for being an uncritical CIA stenographer before he became a beloved NBC/MSNBC reporter (where his mindless servitude to his CIA masters has produced some of the network’s most humiliating debacles). The cable network’s key anchor, Rachel Maddow, once wrote a book on the evils of endless wars without congressional authorization, but now routinely depicts anyone who wants to end those illegal wars as reckless weaklings and traitors.

Yes indeed. In fact, I almost never watch MSNBC, but I did briefly watch Rachel Maddow, who indeed hunted me away (around 2010) by her positions (and her pretty awful website).

Here is some more:

As Shafer noted, filling your news and analyst slots with former security state officials as MSNBC and NBC have done is tantamount to becoming state TV, since “their first loyalty — and this is no slam — is to the agency from which they hail.” As he put it: “Imagine a TV network covering the auto industry through the eyes of dozens of paid former auto executives and you begin to appreciate the current peculiarities.”

All of this led Arkin to publish a remarkable denunciation of NBC and MSNBC in the form of an email he sent to various outlets, including The Intercept.

Yes, although it is a bit ambiguous what "state TV" is supposed to mean in the USA, mostly because Greenwald has insisted that "the Real U.S. Government" is "so secret, vast and powerful that it evades the control or knowledge of any one person or even any organization".

Anyway. Here is the last bit that I quote from the article:

That an entire generation of Democrats paying attention to politics for the first time is being instilled with formerly right-wing Cold Warrior values of jingoism, über-patriotism, reverence for security state agencies and prosecutors, a reckless use of the “traitor” accusation to smear one’s enemies, and a belief that neoconservatives embody moral rectitude and foreign policy expertise has long been obvious and deeply disturbing. These toxins will endure far beyond Trump, particularly given the now full-scale unity between the Democratic establishment and neocons.

I mostly agree and there is a lot more in this recommended article.

2. The Collapse of the ‘War on Terror’ Paradigm

This article is by Juan Cole on Truthdig. It starts as follows:

The primary post-9/11 paradigm of U.S. foreign policy has been the war on terrorism, which is to say a profound and kinetic military and counterinsurgency engagement of the U.S. Pentagon, CIA and State Department in the Greater Middle East. This paradigm succeeded the Cold War paradigm of 1946-1991, which collapsed when the Soviet Union did.

Yes indeed, though I immediately like to remark that I believed in the "War on Terror" about as much as I believed in the "War on Drugs", which also means that I see and saw both "Wars" as something else than they were said to be: The "War on Drugs" seemed - to me - more like a war on the blacks, and the "War on Terror" seemed to me more like the propaganda effort of either the military-industrial complex or the rich American firms that produce most of the weapons that the American government buys.

Here is some more:

Not only are there neo-isolationist currents in the American heartland and among the Libertarian fraction of the business classes, but the anti-imperialism of the 2018 New Left may also push in that direction. Bernie Sanders sponsored a successful Senate resolution urging a US withdrawal from the Saudi-led Yemen War.

Well... in fact I do not much like prose in which there are "neo-isolationist currents" and "the Libertarian fraction of the business classes" and "the anti-imperialism of the 2018 New Left", but this may be my own distaste for propagandistic prose from the Left (or "the Left").

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

While the emergence of the War on Terror during the past 18 years might seem understandable in the light of the terrorism threat posed by al-Qaeda, in fact the policy is suspiciously self-serving for Washington hawks who had been in the wilderness in the Clinton era (when, aside from a police action in Kosovo, the US was not at war anywhere in the world, posing a profound challenge to the US arms industry that it met by a) selling dangerous weapons abroad and b) secretly lobbying for more US wars).

As I have indicated already, I never believed in the "War on Terror" as propagandized by the U.S. government, and indeed I also never believed in "the terrorism threat posed by al-Qaeda" (simply because of the size and financing of the American army, that spends 10 times as much money on arms and war - at least - than any other country). This is a recommended article.

3. What to Expect of House Democrats

This article is by Robert Reich on his site. It starts as follows:

Democrats are now in control of the House of Representatives, under Speaker Nancy Pelosi. I know and have worked with many of them. They are people of integrity who will strive to do what’ right for America. Pelosi is tough and courageous. Were it not for her insistence, Obama would not have pushed for the Affordable Care Act.

But they are not miracle workers. Republicans still control the Senate.

Well... I know Reich is a Democrat who worked for the first of Bill Clinton's governments, but I have less trust in the "integrity" (and the honesty) of many of his Democratic friends, especially if they have become rich as Senators or Congress men.

But Reich is right, of course, that the Democrats now have the majority in the House, and he is also right that this will make a considerable difference.

Here is more:

They will make life harder for Trump, to be sure. They will investigate. They have the power of subpoena. The House Ways and Means Committee is specifically authorized to subpoena Trump’s tax returns. They might even move to impeach Trump, if Mueller reports what I expect him to.

But they will do little to change the growing imbalance of wealth and power in this country unless they are pushed to do so. Do not ever underestimate the influence of Wall Street Democrats, corporate Democrats, and the Democrat’s biggest funders. I know. I’ve been there.

Yes, although I am a bit skeptical about Reich's combination of praise for the Democrats in the start of this article, and his lack of praise (or so it seems) when saying "[d]o not ever under- estimate the influence of Wall Street Democrats, corporate Democrats, and the Democrat’s biggest funders": I agree with the last point, but less with the praise.

But here is Reich's real point, in the last bit that I quote from this article:

This is where you come in. Millions of us worked hard to create a “blue wave” and put Democrats in control of the House. But our work is not over by any stretch. Nothing good happens in Washington unless good people outside Washington are organized and mobilized to make it happen.

We must support Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats when they need our support to do the right things. We also need to push them when they need pushing. And we must fight them when they begin to cave.

I agree with this - though I am considerably more critical of the Democrats (except for a few) than Reich appears to be. But this is a recommended article.

4. 'Trump Is Guilty':  Renewed Push to Impeach President

This article is by Jessica Corbett on Common Dreams. I abbreviated the title. It starts as follows:

As the Democratic Party took control of the U.S. House on Thursday, the first day of the 116th Congress, along with the lower chamber's leadership shift came a renewed push from some Democrats to impeach President Donald Trump.

Democratic Reps. Brad Sherman (Calif.) and Al Green (Texas) on Thursday re-introduced Articles of Impeachment against Trump for allegedly obstructing justice by firing former FBI director James Comey, among other actions. Sherman, with Green's support, had previously filed an impeachment resolution in July of 2017, when the House was under GOP control.

I say, which I do because I did not know about Sherman and Green. Here is more on the history of this attempt to impeach Trump:

Since Republicans refused to hold hearings on that measure, H.Res. 438, and all legislation introduced last session but not enacted into law was terminated on Wednesday, Sherman said in a statement: "Accordingly, it's necessary and appropriate to reintroduce the Articles of Impeachment. I have not changed the text. I continue to believe that obstruction of justice is the clearest, simplest, and most provable high crime and misdemeanor committed by Donald J. Trump."

"Every day, Donald Trump shows that leaving the White House would be good for our country," the 12-term congressman told the Los Angeles Times early Thursday, before the congressional session convened. In terms of his impeachment resolution, Sherman said, "There is no reason it shouldn't be before the Congress."

I agree with Sherman. Here is some more on his present position:

Now, however, Sherman and newly re-elected House Speaker Nancy Pelosi seem inclined to wait until they know more about the ongoing probe into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and the possibility of collusion with the Trump campaign. As Sherman put it, "I understand that a majority of our Democratic Caucus will want to wait until Special Counsel Robert Mueller completes his report, which I would hope will be issued in the next two to three months."

Well... I think that my two fundamental reasons to be for impeaching Trump are that (1) I am a psychologist who thinks that Trump is insane (and being a psychologist does make a difference) and that (2) I fear for a nuclear war with a madman like Trump as the head of the American government.

Then again, I do not know about Mueller or his report. Anyway... here is the last bit of this article that I quote:

However, while efforts to impeach Trump have drawn comparisons to Nixon, there may be some differences in how it all shakes out. As Bill Blum posited for Truthdig on Wednesday, "unlike Nixon, Trump will not resign. Some of his children and his son-in-law may be indicted, the stock market may continue its tumble, the country may slide into a recession, and the Republican establishment may desert him, but he won't follow Nixon's lead and quit."

"Trump will remain until the bitter end and seek reelection," Blum concludes, "not because he is a man of courage and principle, but because he has no other safe personal option... Trump has little to gain by departing the Oval Office early and much to lose if he does. Guided by narcissism and self-interest, and backed by his dogged white nationalist base, he'll stay put until he is either removed or defeated at the polls."

I think this is more probably correct than incorrect, and this is a recommended article.

5. It’s Your Congress, People! Make It Work for You!

This article is by Ralph Nader on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:

Congress is the Constitutionally delegated repository of the sovereign authority of the people (the Constitution which starts with “We the People,” not “We the Congress!”). Most of the changes, reforms, and improvements desired by a majority of people have to go through Congress. Incentives for change often start with Congressional elections or grass-roots organizing. But sooner or later, change has to go through the gates of our national legislature on Capitol Hill.

This point is so obvious that it is astonishing so many reformers fail to regularly hammer home that we must intensely focus on Congress.

Just 535 humans (Senators and Representatives) need your votes far more than they need fat cat campaign contributions.

I like and admire Ralph Nader, and I agree to the above, except for its last paragraph, at least in the sense that I believe that most of the 535 humans who represent "The American People" in fact are corrupt.

Then again the Senate plus the House is the American parliament, and Nader is right that these must be somehow involved in many things Americans want or oppose.

Here is more from the article:

Guess what the following twelve redirections or changes have in common with one another?

  1. A living wage, much higher than the long-frozen federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.
  2. Full Medicare for all or what is called a “single payer” system covering everybody, with free choice of doctor and hospital, is much cheaper and has better outcomes than the present complex, bureaucratic, price-gouging, claim denying, profits-first chaos in the U.S.
  3. Moving swiftly to a renewable, solar-based, wind-powered, more efficient energy system, that diminishes climate disruption and toxic pollution.
  4. Cleaner air, water, soil and food for a healthful environmental for today and for coming generations.
  5. Clean elections reform and strong, enforceable laws against public corruption.
  6. Criminal justice reform, especially regarding non-violent offenses and additional reforms of sentencing and prisons.
  7. Stopping taxpayers from being required to pay for very costly corporate welfare, or what conservatives call “crony capitalism” in all its many forms.
  8. Enforcing the criminal and civil laws against corporate rip-offs, thefts, hazardous products, and hearing the voices of workers, consumers and those from beleaguered communities (especially on the public’s airwaves unfairly controlled by the monetized gatekeepers called radio and television stations).
  9. Protecting access to justice for wrongfully injured people to have their full day in court with trial by jury as demanded by the country’s founders and our Constitution.
  10. Protection of the public lands – the national and state forests and the national parks and wilderness regions from corporate profit-driven encroachment and despoliation.
  11. Re-evaluating the loss of lives from unconstitutional, boomeranging wars abroad that spread death and destruction abroad making more people our enemies. These wars have also taken trillions of taxpayer dollars from rebuilding our community infrastructure – schools, highways, bridges, public transit, libraries, health clinics, drinking water/sewage works, and environmental cleanups.
  12. Make it easier for consumers, workers, and small taxpayers to band together for civic action and a powerful seat at the table with big businesses and their government toadies.
I completely agree with each of these 12 points, and I did quote all of them.

Here is the last bit that I quote from this article, which is Nader's reply to his own question:

These twelve advances have the following in common:

(1) They have majority public opinion support – in some cases huge support– which means many liberal and conservative voters agree, which can produce an unstoppable political movement.

(2) Most of them cost nothing or little to implement, bringing more efficiencies and less damage to our society. Wisdom is less expensive than constant folly or deep greed!

(3) They are understandable. People relate to the experiences, agonies, and dreams for a better life and livelihood for themselves and for their families.

(4) They provide people with a sense of empowerment and accomplishment – traits necessary for a worthy democracy to work. Cynicism and withdrawal begin to be reversed in favor of engagement and new civic institutions needed by our posterity.

(5) They all have to go through our Congress – a good majority of only 535 people whose names we know become much more responsive to citizen action, people-driven town meetings, civic agendas, and democratizing procedures inside Congress.

Yes, I mostly agree (but fail to understand (5)). This is a strongly 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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