April 19, 2019

Crisis: Greenwald & Mueller, Hasan & Mueller, Chomsky & Russia, Chomsky & GND, Corrupt Pentagon

“Nothing in all the world is more dangerous, than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”
  -- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.



1. Summary
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from April 19, 2019

This is a Nederlog of Friday, April 19, 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 April 19, 2019:
1. Robert Mueller Obliterated the Trump-Russia Conspiracy Theories.
2. Mueller Just Handed You a Road Map for Impeachment. Follow It.

3. Chomsky: By Focusing on Russia, Democrats Handed Trump a “Huge

4. Noam Chomsky: The Green New Deal Is Exactly the Right Idea

5. Nearly 100,000 Pentagon Whistleblower Complaints Have Been Silenced
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. Robert Mueller Obliterated the Trump-Russia Conspiracy Theories.

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

The two-pronged conspiracy theory that has dominated U.S. political discourse for almost three years – that (1) Trump, his family and his campaign conspired or coordinated with Russia to interfere in the 2016 election, and (2) Trump is beholden to Russian President Vladimir Putin — was not merely rejected today by the final report of Special Counsel Robert Mueller. It was obliterated: in an undeniable and definitive manner.

The key fact is this: Mueller – contrary to weeks of false media claims – did not merely issue a narrow, cramped, legalistic finding that there was insufficient evidence to indict Trump associates for conspiring with Russia and then proving their guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. That would have been devastating enough to those who spent the last two years or more misleading people to believe that conspiracy convictions of Trump’s closest aides and family members were inevitable. But his mandate was much broader than that: to state what did or did not happen.

That’s precisely what he did: Mueller, in addition to concluding that evidence was insufficient to charge any American with crimes relating to Russian election interference, also stated emphatically in numerous instances that there was no evidence – not merely that there was insufficient evidence to obtain a criminal conviction – that key prongs of this three-year-old conspiracy theory actually happened.

I say, although in fact I do think most of the above since the end of 2016. Then again, I can program and I know a fair amount about politics, and neither can be said about the majority of men.

Here is some more:

In other crucial areas, Mueller did not go so far as to say that his investigation “did not identify evidence” but nonetheless concluded that his 22-month investigation “did not establish” that the key claims of the conspiracy theory were true. Regarding alleged involvement by Trump officials or family members in the Russian hacks, for instance, Mueller explained: “the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”

Yes indeed. And here is yet more:

And Mueller’s examination of all the so-called “links” between Trump campaign officials and Russia that the U.S. media has spent almost three years depicting as “bombshell” evidence of criminality met the same fate: the evidence could not, and did not, establish that any such links constituted “coordination” or “conspiracy” between Trump and Russia:

And here is Greenwald's general conclusion:

In sum, Democrats and their supporters had the exact prosecutor they all agreed was the embodiment of competence and integrity in Robert Mueller. He assembled a team of prosecutors and investigators that countless media accounts heralded as the most aggressive and adept in the nation. They had subpoena power, the vast surveillance apparatus of the U.S. government at their disposal, a demonstrated willingness to imprison anyone who lied to them, and unlimited time and resources to dig up everything they could.

The result of all of that was that not a single American – whether with the Trump campaign or otherwise – was charged or indicted on the core question of whether there was any conspiracy or coordination with Russia over the election. No Americans were charged or even accused of being controlled by or working at the behest of the Russian government. None of the key White House aides at the center of the controversy who testified for hours and hours – including Donald Trump, Jr. or Jared Kushner – were charged with any crimes of any kind, not even perjury, obstruction of justice or lying to Congress.

And that is that, I would say. Indeed, there is an additional question (that I will not attempt to answer here and now): Whence all these false beliefs in major parts of the American (and English) press?!

Here is one more bit from this article:

Mueller certainly provides substantial evidence that Russians attempted to meddle in various ways in the U.S. election, including by hacking the DNC and Podesta and through Facebook posts and tweets. There is, however, no real evidence that Putin himself ordered this, as was claimed since mid-2016. But that Russia had done such things has been unsurprising from the start, given how common it is for the U.S. and Russia to meddle in everyone’s affairs, including one another’s, but the scope and size of it continues to be minute in the context of overall election spending:

To reach larger U.S. audiences, the IRA purchased advertisements from Facebook that promoted the IRA groups on the newsfeeds of U.S. audience members. According to Facebook, the IRA purchased over 3,500 advertisements, and the expenditures totaled approximately $100,000.

I say again, and immediately add that I have given the same or a very similar argument quite a while ago, and indeed never denied that the Russians did "meddle in various ways in the U.S. elections" - I only insisted this meddling was to be expected and was fairly small, and Greenwald agrees.

And this is a strongly recommended article.

2. Mueller Just Handed You a Road Map for Impeachment. Follow It.

This article is by Mehdi Hasan on The Intercept. I abbreviated the title. This is from near its beginning:

You now have access to the report itself, and even the “lightly redacted” 448 pages provide you with a clear and detailed road map for impeaching Donald Trump, in line with Article II, Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution: “The President, Vice President and all civil officers of the United States, shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.”

Listen to special counsel Robert Mueller. “With respect to whether the President can be found to have obstructed justice by exercising his powers under Article II of the Constitution, we concluded that Congress has authority to prohibit a President’s corrupt use of his authority in order to protect the integrity of the administration of justice,” he writes, adding: “The conclusion that Congress may apply the obstruction laws to the President’s corrupt exercise of the powers of office accords with our constitutional system of checks and balances and the principle that no person is above the law.”

Got that? The special counsel — who listed 11 instances of potential obstruction of justice in his report and refused to “exonerate” the president — placed the decision firmly in your court. This is the impeachment referral you claimed you were waiting for.

Well... perhaps. But there also is one major problem with it, and that is that Article II says that “[t]he President, Vice President and all civil officers of the United States, shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors” and the point is (in bold) "and conviction of" - and that seems impossible with the Republicans having a majority in the Senate.

In fact, here is
some more:

Trump, in Mueller’s view, may not have committed an “underlying crime” in relation to Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election — but this is frankly irrelevant to the case for impeachment. Listen to one of the 13 managers sent from your august body to prosecute the case against President Bill Clinton in the Senate in 1999. “You don’t even have to be convicted of a crime to lose your job [as president] in this constitutional republic if this body determines your conduct as a public official is clearly out of bounds in your role,” said then Republican representative — and now senator — Lindsay Graham. The process of impeachment, he argued, “is about restoring honor and integrity to the office.”

This is your duty — your obligation! You must restore some sense of honor and integrity to the office of the presidency.

I agree that Lindsay Graham (Lindsay Graham!) said (in 1999, about Bill Clinton) that "You don’t even have to be convicted of a crime to lose your job [as president] in this constitutional republic"
but I think this is nearly equivalent to what I said above, simply because it is most unlikely that a majority of the present Senate will agree.

Here is some more by Hasan:

Look, I get it. You’re afraid. You’re afraid of the backlash from your Republican counterparts. You’re afraid of losing in the Senate, where — right now — you lack a majority to convict Trump. You’re afraid that impeachment hearings will distract from your party’s 2020 presidential campaign.

But your job, first and foremost, is to preserve democracy and protect the rule of law. That’s the job assigned to you by the Constitution and also what’s expected of you by the American people. You cannot walk away from it.

Your leader in the House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, said last month — prior to the publication of the Mueller report — that she believes impeaching Trump is “just not worth it.” Sorry, what? If a president who has repeatedly and brazenly misled the American people; welcomed the interference of a foreign government in the U.S. election process while also trying to benefit from it; obstructed justice on multiple occasions in order to try and cover it all up; and also — lest we forget! — praised neo-Nazis as “very fine people,” is not “worth” impeaching, then … which president is? When will it ever be “worth” it?

This has three paragraphs, and I have a comment on each.

First paragraph. No, I am not afraid, but I do think that the Senate will - at present - not convict Trump.

Second paragraph. I agree that this is the job the Senate and the House accepted, but again, what is the use if the Senate will not convict Trump?

Third paragraph. I dislike Nancy Pelosi, and I agree with the arguments Hasan gave -
but again, what is the use if the Senate will not convict Trump?

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

According to the special counsel’s report, Trump’s response to Mueller’s appointment in May 2017 was to exclaim, “Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my Presidency. I’m fucked.”

Well, House Democrats, the truth is that he isn’t “fucked” until you do your job.

Well, yes - but again, what is the use if the Senate will not convict Trump? And mind that I am only asking, for I think (as a psychologist) that Trump is insane and (as a philosopher) dangerous. But my question remains: I do not see how Trump can be impeached without the support of the majority of the Senate.

3. Chomsky: By Focusing on Russia, Democrats Handed Trump a “Huge Gift”

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

As Attorney General William Barr releases Robert Mueller’s long-anticipated report into Russian interference in the 2016 election, we speak with world-renowned political dissident, linguist and author Noam Chomsky about what he sees as the political perils of “Russiagate.”

Yes indeed, and this was a good idea. The rest that I quote in this review are Chomsky's words. Here is the first bit:
Meanwhile, the Republicans shifted so far to the right that they went completely off the spectrum. Two of the leading political analysts of the American Enterprise Institute, Thomas Mann, Norman Ornstein, about five or 10 years ago, described the Republican Party as what they called a “radical insurgency” that has abandoned parliamentary politics.

Well, why did that happen? It happened because the Republicans face a difficult problem. They have a primary constituency, a real constituency: extreme wealth and corporate power. That’s who they have to serve. That’s their constituency. You can’t get votes that way, so you have to do something else to get votes. What do you do to get votes?
I think this is a good analysis, and the answer to the last question is that you try to pick up the Christian vote, both Catholic and Protestant, which is what the Republicans did.

Here is some more:

The Republicans could pick up that vote by pretending—crucially, “pretending”—to be opposed to abortion. By the same pretense, they could pick up the evangelical vote. Those are big votes—evangelicals, northern Catholics. Notice the word “pretense.” It’s crucial. You go back to the 1960s, every leading Republican figure was strongly, what we call now, pro-choice. The Republican Party position was—that’s Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, all the leadership—their position was: Abortion is not the government’s business; it’s private business—government has nothing to say about it.

Yes, I think that is probably correct. Here is some more:

So, if you look at the legislation under Trump, it’s just lavish gifts to the wealth and the corporate sector—the tax bill, the deregulation, you know, every case in point. That’s kind of the job of Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan, those guys. They serve the real constituency. Meanwhile, Trump has to maintain the voting constituency, with one outrageous position after another that appeals to some sector of the voting base. And he’s doing it very skillfully. As just as a political manipulation, it’s skillful. Work for the rich and the powerful, shaft everybody else, but get their votes—that’s not an easy trick. And he’s carrying it off.

Yes again, I think this is also probably correct. Indeed, I also stated in 2016 that not only is Trump insane, he also has a definite ideology, namely the neofascist ideology, and you can see whether you agree by reading the last link.

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

The Democrats invested everything in this issue. Well, turned out there was nothing much there. They gave Trump a huge gift. In fact, they may have handed him the next election. That’s just a—that’s a matter of being so unwilling to deal with fundamental issues, that they’re looking for something on the side that will somehow give political success. The real issues are different things. They’re things like climate change, like global warming, like the Nuclear Posture Review, deregulation. These are real issues. But the Democrats aren’t going after those. They’re looking for something else—the Democratic establishment. I’m not talking about the young cohort that’s coming in, which is quite different.

Yes, I agree. And I'd say that "the Democratic establishment" consists of Nancy Pelosi, Hillary Clinton and more of that ilk, who are all both Democrats and corrupt. Indeed, my own view of the Democratic Party is that I do not know anyone (of those sitting there since before 2016) except Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren that I think is provably not corrupt. Anyway, this is a strongly recommended article.
4. Noam Chomsky: The Green New Deal Is Exactly the Right Idea

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

Supporters of the Green New Deal are launching a nationwide tour Thursday to build support for the congressional resolution to transform the U.S. economy through funding renewable energy while ending U.S. carbon dioxide emissions by 2030. Democracy Now! spoke with Noam Chomsky about the Green New Deal and the lessons of the old New Deal in Boston last week

Yes indeed (again), and here is Chomsky on the Green New Deal (happily also unabbreviated):

NOAM CHOMSKY: First of all, I think the Green New Deal is exactly the right idea. You can raise questions about the specific form in which Ocasio-Cortez and Markey introduced it: Maybe it shouldn’t be exactly this way; it should be a little bit differently. But the general idea is quite right. And there’s very solid work explaining, developing in detail, exactly how it could work. So, a very fine economist at UMass Amherst, Robert Pollin, has written extensively on, in extensive detail, with close analysis of how you could implement policies of this kind in a very effective way, which would actually make a better society. It wouldn’t be that you’d lose from it; you’d gain from it. The costs of renewable energy are declining very sharply. If you eliminate the massive subsidies that are given to fossil fuels, they probably already surpass them. There are many means that can be implemented and carried out to overcome, certainly to mitigate, maybe to overcome, this serious crisis. So the basic idea is, I think, completely defensible—in fact, essential. A lot of the media commentary ridiculing this and that aspect of it are essentially beside the point. You can change the dates from 2030 to 2040, you can do a couple of other manipulations, but the basic idea is correct.

Yes, I completely agree and this is a strongly recommended article.

5. Nearly 100,000 Pentagon Whistleblower Complaints Have Been Silenced

This article is by Lee Camp on Common Dreams and originally on Truthdig. This is from near its beginning:

The military is a gigantic organized human murder machine, and even if you “support” every action our military has ever taken, you can still acknowledge it’s an organized human murder machine. (You would just bizarrely argue that all the murder has been just and sound and pure.)

Eleven months ago I covered $21 trillion of unaccounted-for adjustments at the Pentagon over the past 20 years. Don’t try to think about the number $21 trillion because you’ll pass out and hit your head on the desk. If your salary is $40,000 a year, in order to earn $21 trillion, it would take you 525 million years.
Yes indeed - which is to say that the Pentagon somehow lost over 1 trillion dollars a year, during 20 years. Besides, the Pentagon at present receives 55% of the discretionary tax money (and fights many wars with it since 2001), which is pretty crazy if you realize that - for example - Germany spends 2% of its tax money on its defense.

Then there is this:

Over the past year there has been a little more coverage of the utterly preposterous amount of money unaccounted for at our human murder machine. The Nation magazine, Forbes and Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez all covered it. Then the white blood cells of the military-industrial complex kicked into action in order to destroy the “infection.” The New York Times and Vox both claimed the $21 trillion is merely the result of large-scale misdocumentation and therefore doesn’t matter at all. Of course, the idea that tens of TRILLIONS of dollars of unaccountable adjustments don’t matter and couldn’t mask any fraud, abuse or corruption is an assertion that makes Charlie Sheen’s statement that he runs on tiger blood seem downright levelheaded.

Yes, I quite agree: To say that the somehow disappeared $21 trillion doesn't matter is utter bullshit (and $21 trillion = 21,000,000,000,000 dollars that the Pentagon somehow disappeared).

Here is some more:

A month ago the Government Accountability Office came out with a report
showing the total number of whistleblower complaints over the past five years at the Department of Defense. It’s nearly 100,000. Here’s the only part of the report that references that number:

The Department of Defense Inspector General identified 8 substantiated violations of whistleblower confidentiality between fiscal years 2013 and 2018, representing approximately .01 percent of the 95,613 contacts handled by the Inspector General during that time….

95,613 whistleblower complaints over five years.

Yes indeed - and if you believe that 8 violations/95,613 complaints conceivably could represent a  valid number, I believe you are extremely naive.

Here is the last part of this article that I quote:

So let’s sum this up, shall we? The Pentagon sucks up 55% of all the discretionary tax money we pay to our government (thanks to our bought-off Congress who receive more Christmas cards from weapons contractors than they do from relatives). Those who work at the Pentagon have no idea where or how the money is spent. They make up many of the numbers resulting in tens of trillions of dollars of unaccounted-for adjustments. They lose helicopters, buildings and, in a few instances, even nuclear warheads. There is an unimaginable amount of fraud and corruption at every level and literally thousands of whistleblowers have tried to come forward every single year—one every six minutes. When they do take that incredibly brave action, over 90% of the claims are dismissed without even being investigated.

Yes indeed, 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 3 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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