Jan 6, 2017
Crisis: Greenwald *2, Obama, Trump & Wall Street, Secret Armies, Political Correctness
Sections                                                                     crisis index

Glenn Greenwald on "Dearth of Evidence" Linking Russia to
     WikiLeaks Release of DNC Emails

2. Glenn Greenwald: Mainstream U.S. Media is Culpable for
     Disseminating Fake & Deceitful News on Russia

Obama, Deporter in Chief, Should Pardon the Undocumented
No Conflict Here: 150 Wall Street Firms Own Over $1.5 Billion
     of Donald Trump’s Debt

5. The Year of the Commando
6. Has Political Correctness Gone off the Rails in America?

This is a Nederlog of January 6, 2017.

This is a
crisis log with 6 items and 6 dotted links: Item 1 and item 2 are about two interviews with Glenn Greenwald on Democracy Now!; item 3 is about an article by Amy Goodman and Denis Moynihan who agree with Chomsky that Obama should pardon 11 million immigrants that Trump seeks to evict (I agree with Chomsky etc. but I don't think Obama will do it); item 4 is about Trump's many threatening legal difficulties due to his riches and also about the fact that he seems to keep (directly or indirectly) commanding his business empire while president of the USA; item 5 is about a long article that is only very partially extracted about the enormous secret armies that the president of the USA commands, and that are busy in 138 (!!) countries; and item 6 is about an article about political correctness in Spiegel International, that is around 40 years late by my own standards (for I met political correctness in 1977, in the University of Amsterdam, where it still is dominant).

1. Glenn Greenwald on "Dearth of Evidence" Linking Russia to WikiLeaks Release of DNC Emails

first item is by Amy Goodman and Nermeen Shaikh on Democracy Now!:
This starts with the following introduction:
We speak with Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Glenn Greenwald as the Senate Armed Services Committee holds a hearing on alleged Russian cyber-attacks and top intelligence officials are briefing President Obama on a review of evidence that Russia hacked the email servers of the Democratic National Committee. President-elect Trump will be briefed on Friday. This comes as he is supporting statements by WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange that Russia was not the source for the mass leak of emails from the Democratic Party.
I have written several times about this in Nederlog over the past month. The best report is still the one I reviewed on December 14 last. It is this: William Binney, Ray McGovern and Other Intel Experts Call Russian Hacking Allegations ‘Baseless’

Since I think that is still correct (and is by people who really know the NSA) I recommend it to you. In fact, I think by now that much of the mainstream press reports are all lies and propaganda, for they are not based on any knowledge of the real truth but on lies and propaganda, and little else.

Here is Amy Goodman:

AMY GOODMAN: This followed Trump’s tweet on Tuesday that, quote, "The 'Intelligence'"—with "Intelligence" in quotes—"The 'Intelligence' briefing on so-called 'Russian hacking' was delayed until Friday, perhaps more time needed to build a case. Very strange!" unquote. The Wall Street Journal reports Trump is planning an overhaul of the CIA and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence that will limit the power of the spy agencies but put more spies on the streets.

Well, for more, we’re joined by Glenn Greenwald, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, one of the founding editors of The Intercept. His latest article is headlined "WashPost Is Richly Rewarded for False News About Russia Threat While Public Is Deceived."
In fact, Greenwald's mentioned last article was reviewed by me yesterday, when one of my main conclusions was this:

As far as the Washington Post and other mainstream media are concerned, my conclusion is that they no longer spread real news (in many cases, though not all) but they spread rewarding false news and do so quite intentionally, because making a profit has become far more important to them than telling the truth.

I think that conclusion holds for much of the mainstream media, though - perhaps - in differing proportions and with different stresses, depending mostly on whether they support the Democrats or the Republicans.

That was me yesterday. Here is Glenn Greenwald:

GLENN GREENWALD: What’s most remarkable, given how much discussion there has been, how many media reports have been devoted to this topic, what we actually know about any of this is very little. Of course, it’s possible that the Russian government was actually behind these hacks. Nobody has ever said that Russia didn’t do it. Nobody has ever said that this is the sort of thing Putin wouldn’t do. This is the kind of stuff that the U.S. and Russia have both done to one another and to multiple countries around the world for many decades, not just things like this, but far, far worse, in terms of interfering in other countries’ democracies and in their internal affairs.

The real issue, though, is that there has been a very extreme dearth of evidence to actually support the claims that have come from the U.S. government, largely, though not exclusively, through anonymous sources laundered through newspapers.
And so, you have a really consequential and dangerous issue, which is ratcheting up tensions between two nuclear-armed powers, who have decades of tensions, who have almost come to nuclear war on multiple occasions simply through misperception and miscommunication. And all of this is happening in a media environment that has proven over and over that they’ll print anything, no matter how false and dubious, if it feeds the hysteria about Vladimir Putin and the Russians.
Yes, precisely. And here is Greenwald on how the perceptions of WikiLeaks turned around 180 degrees - in this climate of lying, propaganda and bullshit that has hardly any factual background:
GLENN GREENWALD: WikiLeaks became this year a leaker not of documents that reflected poorly on the Bush administration, but that reflected poorly on the Clinton campaign and Hillary Clinton. And as a result, Democrats went from supporting WikiLeaks and viewing them as heroic and important agents of transparency to viewing them as traitors and liars and people that ought to be convicted. And Republicans did exactly the opposite reversal, for exactly the same reasons, which is they went from viewing Julian Assange as a traitor to being a hero and an important conduit for information that the public has the right to know.
All I will say about this I said above: This consists of propaganda and lies from both the Democrats and the Republicans.

2. Glenn Greenwald: Mainstream U.S. Media is Culpable for Disseminating Fake & Deceitful News on Russia

The second item is also by Amy Goodman and is another interview with Glenn Greenwald:

I take it you have read the introduction in item 1. This is a continuation of that interview, but is slightly differently directed, namely at "the fake news" - lies and propaganda - that are spread in the US meda about Russia:

GLENN GREENWALD: So let’s focus on the extraordinary behavior of The Washington Post for the moment. They have produced two of the most humiliating debacles in American journalism over the last several years. And these two humiliations have taken place just within the last six weeks, both of which were about completely fictitious and fabricated claims about the threat posed by Vladimir Putin and Russia.
The story was completely false. And again, the American media, in this hysteria, kept spreading and endorsing it.

And in both cases, the retractions were barely noted. So you have millions of people being misled into this hysteria, into this view that Russia is this grave threat, and when the story journalistically collapses, they barely hear about it. And it happened over and over through the election, with Slate saying that a secret server had been found between Donald Trump and a Russian bank, which turned out to be completely false. The Post aired allegations that Putin had poisoned Hillary Clinton on the day that she collapsed on 9/11. And so, it’s not really just dishonesty. It’s the kind of behavior we saw in 2002, where American media outlets are willing to publish anything that the U.S. government tells them to publish, to inflate and expand the threat posed by Russia, to raise fear levels to the highest possible degree. And it’s an incredibly irresponsible and dangerous form of behavior that media outlets, led by The Washington Post, are engaging in.
And you see this over and over and over again. And remember, these are the people who keep saying that fake news is a huge problem, that Facebook has to suppress it. And yet it’s America’s leading journalistic outlets that are doing more to disseminate false and deceitful stories than Macedonian teenagers by a huge amount. And when they do it and it turns out that the stories are discredited, they take very little to no steps to alert the people that they’ve misled about the fact that the stories were false. And it’s incredibly reckless journalistically. And these are the same people pretending to be crusaders against fake news, who are themselves disseminating it more aggressively than anyone else.

I take it this contains three important points.

The first is that completely false and hysteric propaganda lies are being spread by the mainstream media and are believed and copied by millions of people - whereas the retractions of these false and hysteric propaganda lies are hardly noticed by the same people who helped spread them.

I agree, although for me this is rather strong evidence that the people who can be manipulated in this way are both stupid and ignorant (and should be blamed for that). [1]

The second is that spreading this kind of completely false and hysteric propaganda is both wholly avoidable and "incredibly irresponsible and dangerous". I quite agree.

And the third point is that the mainstream media are the main spreaders of the lies and propaganda that they attack on Facebook as "fake news" while spreading it themselves as if the lies and propaganda they spread is the truth.

Again I completely agree. Then there is this on Trump's use of Twitter and on what seems to be Trump's plan (at least: his practice) of insisting that Trump and only Trump gives reliable information:

GLENN GREENWALD: The problem with Donald Trump using this is twofold. One is that when you’re the actual president of the world’s largest superpower with a massive nuclear arsenal, using Twitter is an extremely dangerous venue because it inherently has all kinds of ambiguities and possibilities for being misunderstood and for misleading people into what your actual intentions are. And that has happened over and over, where so many of his tweets are not even susceptible to reasoned discourse, where you don’t even know what he means.
But I think there’s another sort of more pernicious aspect to it, which is what Trump is doing is he’s trying to discredit every single source of information other than Donald Trump. So, he’s telling his followers, "Don’t listen to the American media, because they’re liars." He’s telling them, "Don’t listen to the intelligence community, because they defrauded you with Iraq." He’s telling them, "Don’t listen to experts, because these experts are all corrupted and they’re part of the D.C. swamp," that he wants to drain. "The only truth that you should trust comes from me, Donald Trump." And that is a very dangerous framework. It’s pure authoritarianism when a political leader also becomes the only source of information that the population trusts.

I completely agree with the first paragraph and somewhat strengthen it as follows:

Twitter is dangerous for all rational communications of any kind because of its insane limitation to 140 characters, and Trump is
dangerous for all rational communications of any kind because he is not sane (check the link: it is by professors of psychiatry) and he lies 70% of the time that his statements were fact checked.

And I also agree with the second paragraph:

It is pure authoritarianism. I have a little bit of doubt, due to the facts that (1) I am somewhat inclined to believe that the average Republican  supporter is more stupid and more ignorant than the average Democratic supporter, and (2) it seems as if there are more supporters of Democratic ideas than of Republican ideas, but I also grant that I may be completely mistaken.

3. Obama, Deporter in Chief, Should Pardon the Undocumented

third item is by (once again) Amy Goodman and Denis Moynihan on Truthdig:
In fact, Amy Goodman and Denis Moynihan support Noam Chomsky's idea that what Obama should do is to pardon the 11 million immigrants who are threatened with deportation by Trump.

I supported the idea on December 26: See
Noam Chomsky’s Bold Request Before President Obama Leaves Office (Video) - and the DACA = the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals:

A number of members of Congress, along with groups like the Hispanic Coalition NY and the Dream Action Coalition, are asking President Obama to go further than protecting the DACA data, and to extend a presidential pardon to all who applied for DACA. And renowned linguist and political dissident Noam Chomsky has taken this idea further, saying Obama “should proceed to what is in fact an urgent necessity: to grant a general pardon to 11 million people who are living and working here, productive citizens in all but name, threatened with deportation by the incoming administration. This would be a horrible humanitarian tragedy. And moral outrage can be averted by a general pardon for immigration infractions, which the president could issue. And we should join to urge him to carry out this necessary step without delay.”

“The power to pardon is one of the least limited powers granted to the President in the Constitution,” James Pfiffner wrote for the conservative Heritage Foundation, back in 2007. Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson granted amnesty to Confederate rebels. Presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter gave amnesty to the more than 200,000 Americans charged with resisting the draft during the Vietnam War (Donald Trump didn’t need the amnesty; he got four draft deferments for college and one for an alleged bone spur). Forty years after Carter, President Obama can use his immense power of the presidential pardon to de-escalate the war on immigrants, which otherwise, under Trump, threatens to get immeasurably worse.

And I said on Devember 26 last:

Will Obama do it? Very probably not [5] - but then he can be blamed (and I hope he will, together with Trump) for intentionally destroying the lives of no less than 11 million persons.

I still think so, though I think Chomsky's request is quite justified - and I also think Obama can be blamed for helping to destroy the lives of 11 million he could have saved.

4. No Conflict Here: 150 Wall Street Firms Own Over $1.5 Billion of Donald Trump’s Debt

fourth item is by Lauren McCauley on Truthdig and originally on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

As many suspected, President-elect Donald Trump’s web of business conflicts is much more complicated than he has let on.

An analysis by the Wall Street Journal published Thursday found that the incoming president owes at least $1.85 billion in debt to as many as 150 Wall Street firms and other financial institutions.

According to the examination of legal and property documents, “Hundreds of millions of dollars of debt attached to Mr. Trump’s properties, some of them backed by Mr. Trump’s personal guarantee, were packaged into securities and sold to investors over the past five years,” thus “broadening the tangle of interests that pose potential conflicts for the incoming president’s administration.”

In May, Trump filed documents with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) that disclosed $315 million owed to 10 companies—but that only included debts for companies that Trump completely controls, “excluding more than $1.5 billion lent to partnerships that are 30 percent owned by him,” WSJ reported.

“As a result,” wrote WSJ reporters Jean Eaglesham and Lisa Schwartz, “a broader array of financial institutions now are in a potentially powerful position over the incoming president.”

I say, which I do because I didn't know that Trump has "at least $1.85 billion in debt to as many as 150 Wall Street firms and other financial institutions" (which may explain some of his sympathies for Wall Street, though this is merely a guess of mine).

No one ever was president of the USA while being a billionaire (to my knowledge). The following is more important, for these things are - I think - explicitly illegal:

While concerns over Trump’s conflicts of interest continue to mount, the president-elect has thus far failed to address the issue. Despite warnings from ethics attorneys, he has refused to divest his business holdings, though there were reports that he would hand the reins of the real estate empire over to his sons and advisors, Donald Jr. and Eric. At the same time, a December press conference was postponed and is now scheduled for Jan. 11—the same day as some of his more controversial appointees’ confirmation hearings.

It is not yet January 11, but my own guess is that Trump will try to become president in the same way as he was candidate: Offending everyone he doesn't like (which seem to be everyone who doesn't see and affirm that He Is The Greatest In Everything That Counts); organizing his own live rallies; keeping on twittering; and also - directly or indirectly - continuing to hold the lead in his companies.

And we shall see whether I was correct on January 11 (that will - very probably - be reported in Nederlog on January 12).

5. The Year of the Commando

The fifth item is by Nick Turse on Truthdig and originally on TomDispatch:

This has the following near the beginning:

For America, 2016 may have been the year of the commando.  In one conflict zone after another across the northern tier of Africa and the Greater Middle East, U.S. Special Operations forces (SOF) waged their particular brand of low-profile warfare.  “Winning the current fight, including against the Islamic State, al-Qaeda, and other areas where SOF is engaged in conflict and instability, is an immediate challenge,” the chief of U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM), General Raymond Thomas, told the Senate Armed Services Committee last year.

SOCOM’s shadow wars against terror groups like al-Qaeda and the Islamic State (also known as ISIL) may, ironically, be its most visible operations.  Shrouded in even more secrecy are its activities—from counterinsurgency and counterdrug efforts to seemingly endless training and advising missions—outside acknowledged conflict zones across the globe.  These are conducted with little fanfare, press coverage, or oversight in scores of nations every single day.  From Albania to Uruguay, Algeria to Uzbekistan, America’s most elite forces—Navy SEALs and Army Green Berets among them—were deployed to 138 countries in 2016, according to figures supplied to TomDispatch by U.S. Special Operations Command.
In fact, the above quotation is on the first of five pages. I thought they are interesting, but they are also too long to extract and review. Instead, I publish a map that is also in the beginning of the article, which shows that - except for Russia - the very secret armies of the president of the USA are nearly everywhere:

In fact, there are 206 sovereign states of which 193 participate in the UN, but it may be safely inferred that the countries where there are no secret armies of the USA - always: outside Russa - are small and insignificant.

And here is the last bit on SOCOM, which is about as secret as the NSA:
SOCOM is willing to name only 129 of the 138 countries its forces deployed to in 2016. “Almost all Special Operations forces deployments are classified,” spokesman Ken McGraw told TomDispatch.  “If a deployment to a specific country has not been declassified, we do not release information about the deployment.”
I say. 

6. Has Political Correctness Gone off the Rails in America?

The sixth and last item is by Phillip Oehmke on Spiegel International:

In fact, it is in 2017 40 years ago that I first met political correctness. I do not think Spiegel wrote about it then (though I don't know) and indeed it was new then, 40 years ago. As I shall explain, I think political correctnes is a form of totalitarian insanity that never was on the rails. [2]

First, here is an illustration how it happens in the USA in 2016/17:

Only a few months earlier, a handful of students claimed they had been traumatized after someone used chalk to scrawl "Trump 2016" on the walls of buildings and on sidewalks at Oberlin and at other liberal universities. It triggered protests on some campuses, with students demanding "safe spaces" where they would be spared from hearing or seeing the name of this "fascist, racist candidate."

In the months prior to the election, "safe spaces" had been one of the most widely discussed terms at Oberlin. The concept has its roots in feminism and describes a physically and intellectually sheltered space that protects one from potentially insulting, injurious or traumatizing ideas or comments -- a place, in short, that protects one from the world. When conservative philosopher and feminism critic Christina Hoff Sommers was scheduled to give a speech at Oberlin last year, some students did not approve and claimed that Sommer's views on feminism represented "microaggressions."

When Sommers appeared anyway, leading some Oberlin students to create a "safe space" during the speech where, as one professor reported, "New Age music" was played to calm their nerves and ease their trauma. They could also "get massages and console themselves with stuffed animals."

I am sorry but these students appear to me either as 5 year olds or as totalitarian degenerates or as mad: If you insist on your right of not even seeing the name of someone you dislike, you simply are out of your mind if you are older than 5 (etc.)

Also, I should remark that Christina Hoff Sommers is a feminist, but not of the varieties of gender feminism or victim feminism, but of the variety called equity feminism. (So the "students" whose aggression was unleashed by Sommers also were mistaken about that.)
Incidentally, while gender feminists deny that equity feminists are feminists, most females in the USA are in favor of equity feminism (though not or much less so of gender feminism) [3].

Here is more on the present kinds of political correctness (and Copeland is a leftist professor of my age):

Today, though, it's personal pronouns that his students are squabbling over and Copeland has little understanding. He says students no longer want to be addressed as "he" or "she," but as "X" or "they" or newly created personal pronouns. At Oberlin, terms like "Latina" or "Latino" for people with Central or South American backgrounds have been replaced with the gender-neutral "Latinx."

Two years ago, Copeland asked a young student who was editing a video during rehearsals for a stage production if she would manage to finish editing the footage by the end of the week. He didn't get the immediate response and things were hectic. "Yes or no?" he called out in his exalted way. "Yes or no?"

The student, who Copeland says is an Asian-American lesbian woman, stormed out of the rehearsal, not that uncommon of an occurrence in theater. Later, the dean ordered Copeland to his office and accused him of having berated a student and of creating a "hostile and unsafe learning environment."
I am sorry, but this is just madness, totalitarianism, Stalinist fascism, or complete bullshit in my view, and I am a - genuine! - Leftist radical since over 50 years (but not a Marxist since 1970). And what follows is quoted from the lemma "political correctness" in my Philosophical Dictionary, that in fact was written and published in 2004:

Political Correctness: Belief or pretence that it is morally good and desirable to speak and act in certain ways.

In general terms, political correctness characterizes nearly all ideologies and religions and is one of the normal totalitarian features these tend to have. It then is a kind of cant of these ideologies or religions.

More particularly, it refers to one of the habits of thinking, speaking and writing introduced by postmodernism: The notion that postmodernistical- ly approved neologisms and euphemisms and other supposed "rectifica- tions" of "ideologically loaded" language will improve the world, and the lie that the postmodernist herself (M/F) is a person out to improve the world rather than make a career by getting academic tenure with what is in fact sycophantic totalitarian drivel without the least scientific or literary value.

In fact, I know of extremely few polically correct persons of the very many that
I somehow knew (usually not directly) in the late 70ies and early 80ies (all of the many were then convinced that I was "a dirty fascist" for not thinking that Marx was the greatest philosophical genius ever) who were not merely pretending with the view of making "
a career by getting academic tenure with what is in fact sycophantic totalitarian drivel without the least scientific or literary value".

That is, nearly everyone of the politically correct I knew in the seventies and eighties were in fact extremely dishonest careerists - and quite a few succeeded in getting a career in this kind of pseudo-academic drivel.

Here is some more from the lemma. This starts with a discription of identity politics (<- Wikipedia, incidentally not a good lemma):

This is normally combined with a very strong Politically Correct - PC - tendency never to refer to individuals except if these are PC Leaders, and to replace all talk of individuals by talk about some kind of group - "community", "cultural identity" -  these individuals are part of and to pretend or believe that these abstractions have feelings, ideas, plans and values. This is a category mistake, but Politically Correct persons pretend to take great moral and intellectual pride in such mistakes, and pretend or believe that those who do not make them are "repressive", "persecutionary", "fascist" and generally evil and inferior, much as in Orwell's "Animal Farm". ("Four feet good, two feet bad!" "All are equal, but some are more equal than others".)
Indeed "Animal Farm" (<-Wikipedia) is the correct reference: The polically correct are like the bleating sheep there, not only because of their stupid totalitarian attitudes, but also because of the horrible other abuses language they practise enthusiastically:
PC writers almost invariably repress all or almost all quantifying terms - "some", "all", "most", "around fifty procent of" - in their prose: Much rather than name a woman and say what she thinks, or indicating what proportions they have in mind,  PC writers utter forth - like ad-writers and con-men - on the pattern "Women feel PC is emancipatory"; "Afro-Americans are discriminated"; "Men are machos"; "The hegemonic identity of the gay community is emancipatory" etc. These habits once again make it possible to pretend to be "emancipatory" by writing a kind of artificial prose that is low in rational content but high in Political Correctness, and that reduces all human individuality to group-membership in some vague abstraction, much like real racists and real ethnicists look upon the world and human beings.

As I said, the above was written in 2004. There are more recent expressions of PC-ness, but I will skip them here and now. Here is the ending of the lemma:

In short, PC is the cant for and of (would be) leftist loonies of the latest quarter of the 20th C, and writing PC is a strong indication that the writer tries to make her career towards chair in Gender Studies by studious totalitarian abuse of language, firmly founded on her own nearly total lack of wit, knowledge and intellect, and her own totalititarian proclivities and lack of intellectual ability and moral or humane or stylistic sensitivity.

PC thrives and is heavily practised in totalitarian dictatorships and religions, and since the 1970ies thrives and is heavily practised in Western universities in the Humanities and Philosophy, which university departments to a great extent have been taken over by Postmodernists, since Postmodernism and Political Correctness enabled the intellectually dim to make an academic career by pretending to be emancipatory, rather like superstitious and totalitarian witchhunters once could get status and payment for their perversions through pretending to be good Christians.

Correctly speaking, PC and Postmodernism are totalitarian species of inverted or direct racism or ethnicism: The postmodernistically PC person pretends to fight racism or discrimination of women or homosexuals or racial or ethnical groups by revising and rectifying the current language into a dialect of sick vaguely grandiose prose of great pretence but little or no content, and by a kind of racism or ethnicism that counters discrimination: PC Feminists seek to emancipate women at the cost of others in the name of equality; PC homosexuals seek to emancipate homosexuals at the cost of others in the name of equality a.s.o., all much like Stalin and Mao pretended to emancipate humanity - namely not at all, yet all in aid of personal "hegemony", dominance, power, career, money and status.

Whoever uses PC - without irony or sarcasm - is either a careerist liar or too dimwitted and brainwashed by leftist totalitarian propaganda to be taken intellectually serious, and anyway a damned bad writer.

Incidentally: There is nothing in this lemma that I wasn't aware of by 1980. I might modernize it one of these days, and indeed it are especially political correctness and postmodernism that are both characteristic of much of the quasi-left and (in my opinion, as a child of two communist heroes of the Dutch resistance against Nazism, and the grandchild of two anarchists and one communist) are totally inconsistent with anything that I call the Left.

It's totalitarian bullshit that is very stupid or very dishonest. (And maybe something that approximates my position towards political correctness may be seen in Spiegel of 2057 or so, that is, 40 years from now.)

[1] I am sorry, but this is what I think. Everybody could have found the same magazines as I did, for they are all freely available on the internet. Somebody who has a computer but does not see anything but Fox News and similar things just is stupid or ignorant.

[2] And everything I say in item 6 about political correctness was known by me in 1980 - which is one reason why I think the present Spiegel article "a little late".

[3] Again I should remind you when I first knew about the distinction between gender feminism and equity feminism (though not in these terms): This was in 1983, when I first read Janet Radcliff Richards' "The Sceptical Feminist" (<- Wikipedia).

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