June 23, 2019

Crisis: The USA & Slavery, U.S. Congress & Wars, VIPS Memo, The ¨Center" Of Politics

“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 June 23, 2019

This is a Nederlog of Sunday, June 23, 2019.

I realize that I did not commemorate the fact that I am writing Crisis files for six years now, since I started to do so after June 10, 2013, which taught me about Snowden.

I am registering it now, and may write about it the coming days, but I am also somewhat worse at present than I was for a long time. (This still continues: I have ME/CFS simce 40+ years.)

There will be more about computers and Ubuntu in Nederlog soon, but I am happy to announce that Ubuntu 16.04 LTS, that I installed in 2017, works again as it did before on May 24, and after 24 hours of misery.

And on May 23 I also got a working computer with 18.04 LTS (which is worse than 16.04 LTS because its Firefox also is a menuless horror that I refuse to use, but happily SeaMonkey is not, for it still has it menus and can be installed on 18.04), so I am at present - and after two weeks of struggling - in the possession of two more or less, though not yet quite decently working computers.

So today there is a more or less common Nederlog, where "common" is the style I developed in 2013.

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 four crisis files that are mostly well worth reading:

A. Selections from June 23, 2019:
1. America Must Make Amends for the Horror of Slavery
2. ‘Where is Congress?’
3. VIPS Memo to the President
4. The ¨Center¨ Of American Politics Is On The Left
The items 1 - 4 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. America Must Make Amends for the Horror of Slavery

This article is by Amy Goodman and Denis Moynihan on Truthdig. It starts as follows:

Juneteenth is a celebration of freedom. The name comes from a combination of the two words in the date, June nineteenth. On that day in 1865, 250,000 slaves in Texas were freed by a Union Army general who had arrived with troops in Galveston the day before. The Civil War had ended more than a month earlier, but word of the war’s end took time to reach parts of Texas. By the end of 1865, the 13th Amendment had been ratified, formally outlawing slavery across the United States.

It was an incredible victory, but the trajectory of systemic racism in the United States did not end there, as we know all too well. Indeed, the real-world impacts of slavery on today’s African American population were front and center in Washington, D.C., this week, as historic hearings and public gatherings convened to discuss, debate and organize around reparations and poverty, and to offer a vision for a more just and equitable nation.

Yes indeed. Here is some more:

On Tuesday, a young African American reporter, Eva McKend, asked Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell whether the government should issue a public apology for slavery. “I don’t think reparations for something that happened 150 years ago, for whom none of us currently living are responsible, is a good idea,” the Kentucky Republican replied.

Ta-Nehisi Coates opened his testimony by saying: “McConnell offered a familiar reply. … But we are American citizens, and thus bound to a collective enterprise that extends beyond our individual and personal reach.”

Well... I think I agree with McConnell (!!) on this. I probably disagree with McConnell on virtually everything else, but I know my history, and while I do not think any of my family has been a slave for hundreds of years, I also think almost everyone in them has been very poor since hundreds of years. Also, I don´t think that they had no gifts, while I do think their poverty - generation after generation after generation - was produced by the economic and social systems they had to live under.

Again, while it would be nice to get personal restitutions for that, the same would be true of something like 90% of the people I live with, and that seems quite impossible to me.

Then again, since I do disagree with McConnell on virtually everything, I agree that the present economic and social position of most black Americans is due to discrimination, which ought to be stopped as soon as possible.

Here is some more:

Also on Wednesday, Juneteenth, another rare hearing took place. The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival presented a Poor People’s Moral Budget to the House Budget Committee. The budget rejects austerity and calls for massive military spending cuts, fair taxes on the wealthy, corporations and Wall Street, and details billions more in savings from ending mass incarceration, tackling climate change and pursuing other progressive goals.

The budget hearing was part of a three-day “Moral Action Congress” convened by the Poor People’s Campaign, co-chaired by the Rev. William Barber II and the Rev. Liz Theoharis. It’s a renewal of the Poor People’s Campaign launched by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the last year of his life.

And I completely agree with the above, and this is a recommended article.

2. ‘Where is Congress?’

This article is by Jon Queally on AlterNet and originally on Common Dreams. I abbreviated the title. It starts as follows:

In the wake of an aborted bombing raid against Iran called off by President Donald Trump just minutes before it was set to launch overnight, anti-war progressives and progressive Democrats on Friday are demanding an end to the era in which the nation’s commander-in-chief is allowed to casually or whimsically claim the authority to start a war or launch an unnecessary attack on a foreign country—a legacy created by nearly two decades of unchecked power, the rise of the imperial presidencyrepeated misadventures, and endless war.

Yes, I completely agree with this, and indeed insist also on the fact that the American Constitution requires the consent of Congress (and indeed the formal initiative) to start any war, which I also think is quite correct.

Here is some more on this:

“A war with Iran would be a disaster and lead to endless conflict in the region,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, on Friday morning. “Congress must assert its constitutional authority and stop Trump from going to war.”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), also running for president, tweeted: “Donald Trump promised to bring our troops home. Instead he has pulled out of a deal that was working and instigated another unnecessary conflict. There is no justification for further escalating this crisis—we need to step back from the brink of war.”

Yes, I completely agree with Sanders and Warren. Here is some more:

In a tweet issued after news broke of Trump’s aborted attack, progressive journalist John Nichols—who has written critically and extensively on the rise of unchecked executive power during the tenures of George H. Bush and Barack Obama, and Trump—emphasized how the current president, like his predecessors, has no constitutional authority to wage war or launch offensive attacks without the explicit consent of Congress:

“Where is the Congress?” Nichols asked. “Decisions about war and peace should not be left to the whims of a president who is ill-prepared, ill-informed, and ill-advised.”

Yes, I agree with Nichols and add that if the president ent were well-prepared, well-informed and well-advises (none of which he is) then still it is a constitutional requirement that Congress agrees in majority to a war in order to start it.

There is rather a lot more in this article, which is recommended.

3. VIPS Memo to the President

This article is in fact the reproduction of a memo by the VIPS to the American president. I abbreviated its title. It starts as follows:
UPDATED: VIPS says its direct experience with Mike Pompeo leaves them with strong doubt regarding his trustworthiness on issues of consequence to the President and the nation.

DATE: June 21, 2019

MEMORANDUM FOR: The President.

FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)

SUBJECT: Is Pompeo’s Iran Agenda the Same As Yours?

After the close call yesterday when you called off the planned military strike on Iran, we remain concerned that you are about to be mousetrapped into war with Iran. You have said you do not want such a war (no sane person would), and our comments below are based on that premise. There are troubling signs that Secretary Pompeo is not likely to jettison his more warlike approach, More importantly, we know from personal experience with Pompeo’s dismissive attitude to instructions from you that his agenda can deviate from yours on issues of major consequence.

Pompeo’s behavior betrays a strong desire to resort to  military action — perhaps even without your approval — to Iranian provocations (real or imagined), with no discernible strategic goal other than to advance the interests of Israel, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. He is a neophyte compared to his anti-Iran partner John Bolton, whose dilettante approach to interpreting intelligence, strong advocacy of the misbegotten war on Iraq (and continued pride in his role in promoting it), and fierce pursuit of his own aggressive agenda are a matter of a decades-long record.
Yes, I think the above is correct, although I doubt that Trump has any reason not to want a war with Iran, other than that such a war may shrink his chances to be re-elected as president of the USA.

Here is some more:
Binney, a widely respected, plain-spoken scientist with more than three decades of experience at NSA, began by telling Pompeo that his (CIA) people were lying to him about Russian hacking and that he (Binney) could prove it. As we explained in our most recent Memorandum to you, Pompeo reacted with disbelief and — now get this — tried to put the burden on Binney to pursue the matter with the FBI and NSA.

As for Pompeo himself, there is no sign he followed up by pursuing Binney’s stark observation with anyone, including his own CIA cyber sleuths.
Yes, I agree, and there is considerably more in this article, that ends as follows:
We believe your final decision yesterday was the right one — given the so-called “fog of war” and against the background of a long list of intelligence mistakes, not to mention “cooking” shenanigans. We seldom quote media commentators, but we think Tucker Carlson had it right yesterday evening: “The very people — in some cases, literally the same people who lured us into the Iraq quagmire 16 years ago — are demanding a new war — this one with Iran. Carlson described you as “skeptical.” We believe ample skepticism is warranted.

We are at your disposal, should you wish to discuss any of this with us.
I agree with the VIPS and this is a recommended article. 
4. The ¨Center¨ Of American Politics Is On The Left

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

Donald Trump, Fox News, and Republicans in Congress label proposals they disagree with “fringe,” “radical,” or “socialist.”  Well, let’s see where the American people actually stand:

On the economy,76 percent of Americans favor higher taxes on the super-rich, including over half of registered Republicans. Over 60 percent favor a wealth tax on fortunes of $50 million or more. Even Fox News polls confirm these trends.

What about health care? Well, 70 percent want Medicare for All, which most define as Medicare for anyone who wants it.  60 percent of Republicans support allowing anyone under 65 to buy into Medicare.

92 percent want lower prescription drug prices. Over 70 percent think we should be able to buy drugs imported from Canada.

In fact, there is considerably more in Reich´s article, but the problem is - as has been many times pointed out by various people and in Nederlog - that the voices and desires of ordinary American people rarely reach Congress and the Senate, in considerable part because both of these are bought by lobbyists for the rich.

Here is the ending of this article:

So why do the powerful call these policy ideas “fringe,” or “radical,” or “socialist?” 

Money. Many of these initiatives would cost them – requiring either higher taxes on the rich (many could be achieved by repealing the giant Trump tax cut for the wealthy and corporations), or regulations that might cut into their corporate profits. 

So you can bet that as these proposals become even more popular, the powerful are going to intensify their attacks.

But just remember: the “center” is not halfway between what most Americans want and what big corporations, Wall Street, and the super-wealthy want.

The “center” is what the vast majority of Americans want. 

Yes indeed - but as I said, the rich also buy the nominal representatives of ¨the people¨, which means that while Reich is correct in saying that ¨[t]he “center” is what the vast majority of Americans want¨, that is not at all what the representatives of the majority want, which also is one of the basic problems of the USA. But this is a recommended article.


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

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

And they just don't care for my site, my interests, my values or my ideas. They have behaved now for 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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