January 18, 2019

Crisis: Impeach the Motherfucker, Lost Children, On Surveillance Capitalism, Ehrenreich, Sanders


1. Summary
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from January 18, 2019

This is a Nederlog of Friday, January 18, 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 18, 2019:
1. When Do We “Impeach the Motherfucker”? (With Rashida Tlaib)
2. The Lost Children of the Trump Administration

3. O.K., Google: How Much Money Have I Made for You Today?

Barbara Ehrenreich Calls on TSA Workers to Walk Off Job
5. 10 Things We All Lose If Bernie Chooses Not to Run in 2020
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. When Do We “Impeach the Motherfucker”? (With Rashida Tlaib)

This article is by Mehdi Hasan on The Intercept. It starts as follows:

In the wake of the 2018 midterms, the Democratic Party in Congress is looking a lot more diverse—not just in terms of gender and ethnicity, but in ideology as well. There are now actual leftists (a tiny minority, but still), with ambitious policy agendas and big social media platforms, making noise and taking no prisoners. Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, a self-declared democratic socialist, is among those newcomers. She wasn’t elected to Congress to manage the status quo; she was elected to overturn it.

Yes indeed, but I want to make three remarks of my own that all relate to the background.

First, on the spelling (!!!) of ¨motherfucker¨. I know this is not a nice term, and it belongs to the swear words, but I know the term (as a European) for at least 53 years now, and one of the things I almost wholly fail to understand (that is, other than as some crazy sort of ritual) is that swear words that every adult American knows are - nevertheless - written in some a-grammatical format, like ¨m*therf@cker¨ or ¨c*nt¨ (and the second is a term I´ve heard used by very many Dutch women since 50 years know).

So... I like it the Intercept prints it in full, as it is officially written, and my suggestion is that this should be the norm, at least in all publications addressed to adults.

Second, on the differences between democratic socialists and social democrats. In brief, I very much dislike the social democrats, and especially the Dutch ones (which in my eyes is the last 30+ years the biggest illegal drugsdealer in Holland and Western Europe, and which, in my experience, has only liars and hypocrites as members, and mostly follow Blatcherists rather than anyone else) while I more or less like the democratic socialists, although this is somewhat complicated because there are many kinds (and besides different honesties).

And third, a comment on ¨[t]here are now actual leftists (a tiny minority, but still)¨: Yes, I quite agree: They are there, but they are in a tiny minority, and especially the last fact should be kept in mind.

Now to the text (and the lacks of indentation are due to The Intercept):

DJT: I am proud to shut down the government for border security, Chuck, because the people of this country don’t want criminals and people that have lots of problems and drugs pouring into our country. So, I will take the mantle. I will be the one to shut it down. I’m not going to blame you for it.

MH: But now — surprise! — he says it’s all the fault of the Democrats. That’s what he proclaimed in his live address to the nation from the Oval Office last week which the TV networks idiotically allowed him to give.

DJT: The federal government remains shut down for one reason and one reason only: because Democrats will not fund border security.

MH: Perhaps he has amnesia. Or dementia. Or maybe he’s delusional. I mean, this is also the same president who told Fox News last Saturday:

DJT: Well, I haven’t actually left the White House in months.

MH: For months? Are you kidding me? He was in Texas just two days before that interview. He was in Iraq two weeks before that. Is he demented? Is he delusional? Is he just a fabulist? But I guess that’s always been the basic message from this reality-star president: Reality doesn’t matter. And anyways, who you gonna believe, me or your lying eyes?

Yes indeed, but since I am a psychologist I do have a remark on Hasan´s ¨Is he demented? Is he delusional? Is he just a fabulist?¨. My remark is simply that it is nearly three years ago (quite a long time before Trump´s election) that I decided that Trump is insane, and I still think that is - by far, also - the best explanation for his extraordinary many lies, accusations, demeanings, denigrations, and the loads of utter bullshit he produces as Tweets.

Then again, since several tenthousands of psychologists and quite a number of psychiatrists think so, and since this also made no difference, I think by now that either psychology is too complicated for the majority (?!) or else that almost any fair statement on Trump´s mind gets deleted by the editors of the mainstream papers (who are also not psychologists).

But in any case, that is my psychologist´s answer to Hasan´s repeated questions.

Here is more:

RT: When your son looks at you and says: “Mama, look, you won. Bullies don’t win.” And I said: “Baby, they don’t, because we’re gonna go in there and we’re gonna impeach the motherfucker.”


MH: Now whether or not you agree with the, uh, colorful language used there, are we supposed to be upset that a new Democratic member of Congress wants to impeach Trump, which is what a majority of Democratic voters want? By the way, Tlaib didn’t just give a speech and swear, she also co-authored an op-ed that day explaining why we don’t need to wait for Mueller or the Russia investigation to conclude. There’s already enough evidence in the public domain of abuse of power, obstruction of justice, campaign finance violations, the imprisonment of children at the border to justify impeachment.

But that was all lost in the brouhaha over her use of the M-word. Republicans were outraged. Outraged, I tell you!

Yes, I take it that is true. Then again, anyone who is outraged by swear words but not by Trump´s degeneracies - Trump´s government has now kidnapped thousands of children of refugees seeking asylum - either is thoroughly insane or is a lying hypocrite.

Also, I think I agree with Tlaib that ¨[t]here’s already enough evidence in the public domain of abuse of power, obstruction of justice, campaign finance violations, the imprisonment of children at the border to justify impeachment¨, all of which makes Mueller´s Russia investigation itself not very material.

Here is some more:

RT in front of crowd: We’re gonna go in there and we’re going to impeach the motherfucker.

MH: — Referring, of course, to Donald Trump. The media went crazy. Cable news rolled on it forever. I think there was a study shown that they covered your comments five times more than they covered Steve King’s racist remarks in defense of white supremacy, Republican Congressman Steve King. You even had some Democrats kind of saying, we’re not happy with this, disowning you. Conservative Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, for example said what you said was deplorable and disgusting.

You see, it is much worse to call someone who kidnaps thousands of children (see item 2) ¨a motherfucker¨ than to kidnap thousands of children, that is, according to Manchin and the Republicans.

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

And what you so clearly lay out on that op-ed is you don’t need to wait for Robert Mueller. There’s enough stuff in the public domain. He does impeachable stuff on a weekly basis. So just for our listeners, briefly make the case for why you, what is the main case that you think is for impeachment? Putting Russia-gate to one side.

RT: Absolutely. The Constitution demands it and I want to reiterate to people to understand that this is beyond the collusion with Russia. This is beyond the Mueller investigation. Every single day that he’s President of United States that has not divested in all of his domestic and foreign corporations, he’s making decisions not in the best interest of the American people. He’s making it based on the profit lines. There is a slippery slope here. If we allow the president United States not to release his taxes and not to understand where his corporate interests are, then who’s next after him?

Yes, I basically agree and this is a strongly recommended article with a lot more.

2. The Lost Children of the Trump Administration

This article is by The Editorial Board of The New York Times. Because the NYT now publishes articles with ten times more Javascript than text, what you will get is a text only version, for I think the NYT does not or should not have the right to spy on its readers. It starts as follows:
Last summer, a federal judge in San Diego said the Trump administration treated immigrant children detained at the border worse than chattel.

“The unfortunate reality,” wrote Judge Dana Sabraw in ordering a halt to President Trump’s policy of separating the children from their parents, “is that under the present system, migrant children are not accounted for with the same efficiency and accuracy as property.”

That was underscored on Thursday when the inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services released a report revealing that thousands more children than previously disclosed may have been torn from their parents for months before the policy was even announced. The report confirmed that, as the number of families seeking asylum has soared, the true crisis on the border was a humanitarian one that the administration’s actions have made far worse.
Yes indeed, I quite agree with Sabraw, and I also want to quote - once again - the reason why I have called this kidnapping from the first time I heard from it. Here is the beginning of the item on kidnapping on Wikipedia:

In criminal law, kidnapping is the unlawful carrying away (asportation) and confinement of a person against his or her will. Thus, it is a composite crime. It can also be defined as false imprisonment by means of abduction, both of which are separate crimes that when committed simultaneously upon the same person merge as the single crime of kidnapping.

And yes, I think taking away children from their parents is unlawful in the case of asylum seekers, and yes, what Trump´s government did was abducting the children and imprisoning them.

Back to the text:
In an accounting that resulted from Judge Sabraw’s order, stemming from a legal challenge brought by the American Civil Liberties Union, the government acknowledged that nearly 3,000 children had been separated from their parents since the policy was announced. But on top of that, the inspector general said, thousands more may not have been counted.

Over all, the total number of children separated at the border is “unknown,” according to the report. Nor was it clear how many of these children had yet to be reunited with their families.

Judge Sabraw was right when he wrote that the government’s responses to the chaos it caused “belie measured and ordered governance, which is central to the concept of due process enshrined in our Constitution. This is particularly so in the treatment of migrants, many of whom are asylum seekers and small children.”
This means that it is quite possible that Trump´s governmental kidnappers kidnapped more than 5000 children (I suppose because Trump feels sure they will all grow into rapist drugsellers and murderers).

And I agree again with Sabraw. This is from the ending of this article:

In a report released in October, the Department of Homeland Security's inspector general found its computers had been unable to track family members who had been separated.

Such dysfunction goes beyond mere incompetence. To have so little regard for the damage done to so many children, for the heartache caused to so many parents, is to indulge in callousness, if not deliberate cruelty.
Yes, I agree though I think that the appropriate term for the policies of Trump´s government is plain sadism.

3. O.K., Google: How Much Money Have I Made for You Today?

This article is by Jennifer Szalai on The New York Times. Because the NYT now publishes articles with ten times more Javascript than text, what you will get is a text only version, for I think the NYT does not or should not have the right to spy on its readers. It starts as follows:
A friend of mine says that whenever he walks into someone’s home he’s tempted to yell out, “Hey, Alexa,” or “O.K., Google,” and order 50 pizzas, just to see if there’s a device listening in on whatever gossip he planned to dish out next.

Shoshana Zuboff would undoubtedly get the joke, but she probably wouldn’t laugh. In “The Age of Surveillance Capitalism,” she warns against mistaking the soothing voice of a personal digital assistant for “anything other than the exploitation of your needs.” The cliché that “if you’re not paying for it, you’re the product” isn’t alarming enough for her. She likens the big tech platforms to elephant poachers, and our personal data to ivory tusks. “You are not the product,” she says. “You are the abandoned carcass.”

O.K., Zuboff, tell me more. It’s a testament to how extraordinarily intelligent her book is that by the time I was compared to an elephant carcass, I resisted the urge to toss it across the room. Zuboff, a professor emerita of Harvard Business School and the author of “In the Age of the Smart Machine” (1988), has a dramatic streak that could come off as simply grandiose if she didn’t so painstakingly make her case. She says we’re living through such “a bold and unprecedented shift in capitalist methods” that even as we encounter the occasional story about Facebook allowing its corporate clients to read users’ private messages or the software in Google’s Street View cars scraping unencrypted information from people’s homes, the American public doesn’t yet grasp the new dispensation in its entirety.
Yes, I basically agree - and in fact this article is a review of Shoshana Zuboff´s new book ¨The Age of Surveillance Capitalism¨, and I have one bit of praise and one bit of criticism on the above quoted passage.

First, I agree with Zuboff that surveillance capitalism is something quite new, and that indeed it may be defined as capitalism + surveillance of everyone by both the spies of many countries and by the very rich, including Google, Facebook, Apple and Microsoft (all also with very little apt, accurate and sensible legislation).

Also, in case you want more, I strongly recommend you to read my
Crisis: Hypotheses on cf+ss: corporate fascism and the surveillance state which has a similar thesis, that I develop in considerable detail in the last article, that in fact was first published in 2012.

There also is some difference in our positions, but it is good (certainly for non-readers of her book like myself) that there is a bit on Wikipedia on surveillance capitalism, that is attributed to Zuboff.

And second, while I agree that
“if you’re not paying for it, you’re the product” is basically bullshit (a ¨product¨ in what sense?!), I think her “if you’re not paying for it, you’re the abandoned carcass” also is not good.

In any case, I prefer
if you’re not paying for it, you’re its slave”, which also is not always correct, but does describe the basics quite well - and you are a slave in the sense that then you will almost certainly be deprived from all the privacies you thought you had.

Here is some more:
So many people take care to calibrate their privacy settings just so, sharing certain things with friends and keeping other things hidden, while their data still gets collected and shared among apps for possible monetization now or later. Google and Facebook might not call to mind the belching smoke stacks and child laborers of the Industrial Revolution, but Zuboff argues that they’re run by people who have turned out to be just as ruthless and profit-seeking as any Gilded Age tycoon. Instead of mining the natural landscape, surveillance capitalists extract their raw material from human experience.
Quite so - and they are acting illegally, at least in my sense of the word, for there is no excuse for setting up e-mails so that all spies and all rich corporations have no trouble reading them:

That is a fundamental betrayal of all privacy (that meanwhile has become part of the law, as in the factually neofascistic ¨European Convention on Human Rights¨) - but it was already foreseen and desired in 1968 (!!) by Zbigniew Brzezinski, who was made Advisor of American National Security by President Carter in 1976. For more, see here:
Crisis: propaganda and Control: Brezezinski 1968.

Here is more:
Surveillance capitalism has flourished precisely because it fulfills what Zuboff concedes are real needs and desires. Online platforms offer us ways to “ease the complexities of our harried lives.” In exchange for surveillance we get convenience, efficiency and social connection.

Google comes in for plenty of criticism from Zuboff, but she is equally scathing about Facebook. (She calls Sheryl Sandberg, who worked at Google before becoming Facebook’s chief operating officer, “the ‘Typhoid Mary’ of surveillance capitalism.”) Facebook has learned how to manipulate empathy and attachment in order to increase engagement and make billions. In a document sent to advertisers in Australia and New Zealand, Facebook bragged of its ability to discern exactly when a young person could use a “confidence boost.” And then there are the Facebook scandals involving Cambridge Analytica and the Kremlin during the 2016 election (...)
This is also mostly correct in my view, but I do not agree with ¨[s]urveillance capitalism has flourished precisely because it fulfills what Zuboff concedes are real needs and desires¨ for the simple reason that it flourishes because it gives those who have the money to use it extreme insight in and extreme power over the minds, values, decisions, impressions, ideas, plans, families and friends of everyone - that also seem to be understood by no more than a few percent of the persons involved (namely those who learned to program quite well).

Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:
Absorbing Zuboff’s methodical determination, the way she pieces together sundry examples into this comprehensive work of scholarship and synthesis, requires patience, but the rewards are considerable — a heightened sense of awareness, and a deeper appreciation of what’s at stake. A business model that seeks growth by cataloging our “every move, emotion, utterance and desire” is too radical to be taken for granted. As Zuboff repeatedly says near the end of the book, “It is not O.K.”
Well... this seems typical of The New York Times. In any case, I would not have said that ¨[a] business model that seeks growth by cataloging our “every move, emotion, utterance and desire” is too radical to be taken for granted¨ but I might have said that ¨[a] business model that seeks growth by cataloging our “every move, emotion, utterance and desire” is sick, dictatorial, totally anti-democratic, and the best preparation for total neofascism that I know. This is a strongly recommended article (but do  not dowload it, unless you want to be the slave of The NYT).

4. Barbara Ehrenreich Calls on TSA Workers to Walk Off Job

This article is by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! I abbreviated the title. It starts with the following introduction:

The longest government shutdown in U.S. history is now on Day 27. As 800,000 workers continue to go without pay, federal employees around the country are rising up to demand an end to the shutdown, which has run public institutions ragged and left hundreds of thousands financially strapped. We speak with Barbara Ehrenreich, author of the best-seller “Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America.” She is calling for TSA workers around the country to strike.

Here is first a reference to Barbara Ehrenreich (who is one of the number of persons I do recall from the Sixties): I like her, and she is also one of those who was raised in a leftist family and remained a leftist, as is also true of me. She also called herself ¨a fourth-generation atheist¨ which is also true of me, at least in the sense that along my father´s line I am a third-generation atheist, and along my mother´s line a sixth or seventh generation atheist (namely since ca. 1855).

Anyway. Here is more:

AMY GOODMAN: The longest government shutdown in U.S. history is now on Day 27. As 800,000 federal workers continue to go without pay, federal employees around the country are rising up to demand an end to the shutdown, which has run public institutions ragged and left hundreds of thousands financially strapped. On Capitol Hill, federal contractors held a protest outside the office of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other Republicans, saying the shutdown threatens to deprive some 4 million contract workers of hundreds of millions of dollars in expected payments. There are reports of skyrocketing absences among federal workers forced to work without pay.

This is Congressmember Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez delivering her first speech on the floor of the House.

REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ: The truth of this shutdown is that it’s actually not about a wall, it is not about the border, and it is certainly not about the well-being of everyday Americans. The truth is, this shutdown is about the erosion of American democracy and the subversion of our most basic governmental norms. It is not normal to hold 800,000 workers’ paychecks hostage. It is not normal to shut down the government when we don’t get what we want. It is not normal for public servants to run away and hide from the public that they serve. And it is certainly not normal to starve the people we serve for a proposal that is wildly unpopular among the American people.

Yes, I quite agree and I add that not only is it not normal: In Holland, and I think in (Western) Europe it is not legal not to pay government workers, and it is also not legal to force them to work without pay.

Here is some more:

AMY GOODMAN: (...) Well, we turn now to someone who says it’s time for TSA
workers to strike. In Washington, D.C., we’re joined by Barbara Ehrenreich, the author of the best-selling book Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America. She’s also the founder of the Economic Hardship Reporting Project and recently wrote a piece for The New York Times headlined “It’s Time for T.S.A. Workers to Strike.”

Yes, quite so. And in fact I agree with Ehrenreich: If indeed many of the T.S.A. workers would go on strike, this would upset extremely many flights by managers, and that in turn would put great pressure on the government. (Then again, I do not know how likely this is.)

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

BARBARA EHRENREICH:  (...)  When Trump said this week, essentially, “You can come back to work, but, you know, you’ll get paid at some point, we can’t tell you exactly when, when the shutdown is over,” that’s not how you respectfully treat American workers. The idea is you work for money; otherwise, it’s in violation of the 13th Amendment, which bans involuntary servitude and slavery.

Yes, I quite agree: ¨you work for money; otherwise, it’s in violation of the 13th Amendment, which bans involuntary servitude and slavery¨. And this is a strongly recommended article, in which there is considerably more.

5. 10 Things We All Lose If Bernie Chooses Not to Run in 2020

This article is by RoseAnn DeMoro on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:

There are countless reasons why Bernie Sanders should run for president in the 2020 election.

But perhaps the threshold question is what if he does not run? What policy issues would be off the table? What demands for transformation would be watered down? The answer is that most progressive initiatives Sanders and his supporters have championed will never see the light of day.

Many of us have waited a lifetime for a leader with so deep a commitment to fundamental change to come along and galvanize our existing movements. While there will be a large and diverse field of candidates, the opportunity to elect someone who has dedicated his life to economic and social justice also gives us the chance to bring forth a more perfect union – one genuinely of the people, by the people, and for the people.

Without Bernie in 2020, what follows is just a partial catalog of what disappears or is seriously compromised.

Yes, I basically agree, and I do so because Sanders is one of the very few Democrats I trust (he also seems to be the poorest senator) and because I like many of his ideas.

Then again, there is one argument against his competing for the presidency in 2020, and that is that he will be 79 if he is elected. Given the choice between Trump and Sanders it will be Sanders for me, also if he is 80, but I also think that the least this does imply is that if he does run he needs a good candidate for the vice-presidency.

Next, DeMoro gives 10 arguments why she thinks President Sanders would be quite important. In this review I merely list the titles. If you want to read the - substantial - texts that come with each heading, go here and read them:
1. An Improved Medicare for All
2. A Just Education System and Student Loan Forgiveness
3. More Peaceful Tomorrows and a Less Militaristic Foreign Policy
4. Real Regulation of Wall Street and the Robin Hood Tax
5. A Progressive Populist Campaign
6. The Promise of a Green New Deal That Centers Both the Planet and
7. A Candidate With a History of Defending Civil Rights
8. A Feminist Candidate With a Deep Commitment to Gender Equality
    and Dignity for All
9. A Warrior for Voting Rights and Democratic Reform
10. A Candidate Focused on Jobs as Well as the Workers and Unions That
    Will Build a Better Future

I agree with all ten points. Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:

And Lastly. A Chance to Reclaim Our National Dreams

Ultimately, and importantly, if Sanders decides not to run it will be about our missed opportunity, not his.

The chance to elect someone with such moral courage and clarity of vision is a chance for the people—and I mean ​all the people—to reclaim national dreams lost as well as hopes and promises betrayed.

In other words, because of his experience and commitment to the common good, he is the most qualified candidate. Just imagine what it looks like if Bernie wins. A warrior backing such fine and necessary policies would be a seismic shift for our lives, this nation, and the world.

As Sanders weighs what must certainly be the hardest decision of his life, those of us who believe in him know what we are asking.

We also know this: the stakes could not be higher.

Yes, I more or less agree with this is as well, and 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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