Tuesday, Apr 25, 2017

Crisis: Trump Unhinged, Snowden, Imperialism, Young Americans, "Resistance", For-Profit

Sections                                                                     crisis index

1. Trump's AP Interview: Unhinged, Bombastic, and

Why Soviet Weather Was Secret, a Critical Gap in Korea, and
     Other NSA Newsletter Tales

3. American Imperialism Leads the World Into Dante’s Vision of

Young People Want Radical Change—Survey Blows the Lid off
     Right-Wing and Corporate Economic Propaganda

5. The Pro-War Twist of the ‘Resistance’
Trump's Corporate Takeover Detailed 100 Days into 'For-Profit

This is a Nederlog of Tuesday
, April 25, 2017.

Summary: This is an ordinary
crisis log with six items and seven links: Item 1 is about an interview Donald Trump gave to Associated Press and also comes with a video. I have to admit that Trump either was dead drunk (but he doesn't drink) or he is considerably more stupid than I thought: it is quite amazing; item 2 is - in fact - about the latest collection from Edward Snowden's files, on The Intercept; item 3 is about part I from a series that may be OK, but that also exaggerates its comparisons; item 4 is about the preferences of young Americans (between 15 and 40); item 5 is about the 'Resistance' (aka "#Resistance"), that I agree is less resistance than propagandizing Hillary Clinton's views; and item 6 is about a day-by-day itemization of the first 100 days if Trump's corporate takeover, that I found interesting.
April 25: As to the updating problem: The Danish site was again on time today; but the Dutch site stuck on April 23, where I meanwhile - after 16 months - conclude it will stick for a week. (They did it from 1996 till 2015 within minutes at most. I think this is to limit the readings of my site.) These horrors happen now for the 16th month in succession. And they happen on purpose. (If you want these horrors, then sign in with "xs4all.nl"; if not, avoid them.)

And I have to add that about where my site on xs4all.nl stuck for others I have NO idea AT ALL: It may be December 31, 2015. (Xs4all wants  immediate payment if you are a week behind. Xs4all.nl has been destroying my site now for over a year. I completely distrust them, but I also do not know whether they are doing it or some secret service is.)
1. Trump's AP Interview: Unhinged, Bombastic, and "[Unintelligible]"

The first article today is
by Nadia Prupis on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

President Donald Trump spoke with Associated Press journalist Julie Pace on Friday, and the transcript of the interview, released Sunday night, shows the president as bombastic and unstable, alternately dismissing his 100-day threshold and boasting about his accomplishments during that time.

The interview comes as public trust in the White House plummets, a grassroots resistance movement to the administration builds, and Trump reverses or pivots his stance on numerous campaign pledges, including the promise to call China a "currency manipulator."

During the interview with Pace, the president displayed many of his trademark sensitivities, particularly his anger at the media, which he described as "fake" multiple times. At one point he referred to CBS' "Face the Nation" as "Deface the Nation."

It also was remarkably stupid and ignorant [1], and to show this here is a video by The Young Turks:

This is 10 min 30 sec and you'll have to watch it yourself (if interested) but it is instructive.

Back to the first article:

The interview was particularly notable for the number of instances in which Pace simply wrote "[unintelligible]" while quoting Trump.

In response to the question, "What's making that switch [from business to government] been like for you?" Trump responded:

You have to love people. And if you love people, such a big responsibility. [unintelligible] You can take any single thing, including even taxes. I mean we're going to be doing major tax reform. Here's part of your story, it's going to be a big [unintelligible]. Everybody's saying, 'Oh, he's delaying.' I'm not delaying anything. I'll tell you the other thing is [unintelligible]. I used to get great press. I get the worst press. I get such dishonest reporting with the media. That's another thing that really has—I've never had anything like it before. It happened during the primaries, and I said, you know, when I won, I said, "Well the one thing good is now I'll get good press." And it got worse. [unintelligible] So that was one thing that a little bit of a surprise to me. I thought the press would become better, and it actually, in my opinion, got more nasty.

I am sorry, but for a president of the USA - who isn't blind drunk, as Trump probably is not, for he does not drink - this is utterly crazy talk. And there is considerably more in both the linked article and in the linked video.

Now for a quote of something I wrote yesterday (and the characteristics of Trump were all listed by others):

What other characteristics must a president of the USA show, next to: narcissism, xenophobia, paranoia, vindictiveness, extreme personal sensitivity, stealing others' work, blaming others for his own failures, lashing out at the press as liars, and demonizing judges, before you conclude Trump is not sane?

Must he be photographed dancing nakedly with foam on his mouth on the presidential desk before he is removed?

In fact, I would not be very amazed if Trump can also do that, and be forgiven by his mates and co-governors as "showing a bit of personality".

Anyway... there is a lot more in the article and in the video, and I am afraid this is the real Trump, doing his best in a long interview. (Unless he was blind drunk.)

2. Why Soviet Weather Was Secret, a Critical Gap in Korea, and Other NSA Newsletter Tales

The second article is by Margot Williams, Micah Lee and Talya Cooper on The Intercept:

This starts as follows and serves as a remembrance that at The Intercept there now is another load of documents from Edward Snowden:

Three years after the 9/11 attacks, a frustrated NSA employee complained that Osama bin Laden was alive and well, and yet the surveillance agency still had no automated way to search the Arabic language PDFs it had intercepted.

This is just one of many complaints and observations included in SIDtoday, the internal newsletter of the NSA’s signals intelligence division. The Intercept today is publishing 251 articles from the newsletter, covering the second half of 2004 and the beginning of 2005. The newsletters were part of a large collection of NSA documents provided to The Intercept by Edward Snowden.

This latest batch of posts includes candid employee comments about over-classification, descriptions of tensions in the NSA-CIA relationship, and an intern’s enthusiastic appraisal of a stint in Pakistan.

Most revealing perhaps are insights into how NSA has operated domestically. The Intercept is publishing two stories on this topic, including one about NSA cooperation with law enforcement during American political conventions, and in a throwback to the movie “Bladerunner,” another article describes a spy balloon used over the United States.

There is a lot in the article and in the pdf but I leave this all to your own interests. (And I did download the pdf, but did not yet read it.)

3. American Imperialism Leads the World Into Dante’s Vision of Hell

The third article is by Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould on Truthdig:

This starts as follows:

“Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch’intrate. (Abandon all hope ye who enter here.)”—Dante, The Divine Comedy, Inferno (Part I), Canto 3, Line 9

Before the Tomahawk missiles start flying between Moscow and New York, Americans had better educate themselves fast about the forces and the people who claim that Russia covered up a Syrian government gas attack on its own people. Proof no longer seems to matter in the rush to further transform the world into Dante’s vision of Hell. Accusations made by anonymous sources, spurious sources and outright frauds have become enough. Washington’s paranoia and confusion bear an uncanny resemblance to the final days of the Third Reich, when the leadership in Berlin became completely unglued.

This seems a decent article, and indeed is the first part of a four-part series, but I must reject the "uncanny resemblance to the final days of the Third Reich, when the leadership in Berlin became completely unglued": This was after 6 years of World War, while Berlin was mostly destroyed; the German armies were mostly destroyed; and Germany was about to be defeated by the Americans, the Russians, the Canadese (and more).

I am sorry but that is not fairly comparable to the present situation of Trump and his cabinet (who I agree are very bad, but who are not in the situation sketched).

Then there is this:

The current U.S. government campaign to slander Russia over anything and everything it does bears all the earmarks of a classic disinformation campaign, but this time is even crazier. Considering that Washington has put Russia, China and Iran on its anti-globalist hit list from which no one is allowed to escape, drummed-up charges against them shouldn’t come as a surprise. But accusing the Russians of undermining American democracy and interfering in an election is tantamount to an act of war, and that simply is not going to wash.

Again I am sorry, but this is also somewhat of an exaggeration: If you check act of war you'll find that this opens as follows:

Former Vice President Dick Cheney says Russia's alleged interference in the U.S. presidential election could be interpreted by some as an "act of war."

Cheney also said (without any specification) "In some quarters that would be considered an act of war" and added "he "does not speak for anyone else; I am not part of the government anymore.""

So this is not quite "
tantamount to an act of war": It is Cheney, speaking for himself, saying what he thinks "some quarters" might think.

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

Muddying the waters in a way not seen since Sen. Joe McCarthy and the height of the Red Scare in the 1950s, the “Countering Disinformation and Propaganda Act” signed into law without fanfare by President Obama in December 2016 officially authorizes a government censorship bureaucracy comparable only to George Orwell’s fictional Ministry of Truth in his novel “1984.” Referred to as “The Global Engagement Center,” the official purpose of the new bureaucracy will be to “recognize, understand, expose, and counter foreign state and non-state propaganda and disinformation efforts aimed at undermining United States national security interests.”

But the real purpose of this totally Orwellian center will be to manage, eliminate or censor any dissenting views that challenge Washington’s newly manufactured version of the truth and to intimidate, harass or jail anyone who tries.

I mostly agree with the first paragraph - and insist that is a more or less natural consequence after the government's secret services have gotten access to almost anything they want (completely unlike anything that ever happened before!): Once they have that, they are able to set up their own standards of propagandistic "truth" and indeed are also capable of arresting anyone who disagrees.

There is more in the article and this also was the first part of a series. I recommend that your read it, but as indicated I do not quite agree with it: I agree with the criticisms but considerably less so with the comparisons and illustrations - it seems.

4. Young People Want Radical Change—Survey Blows the Lid off Right-Wing and Corporate Economic Propaganda

The fourth article is by Les Leopold on AlterNet:

This starts as follows:

A new survey conducted by the Runawayinequality.org Educational Network shows that younger Americans (ages 18-40) overwhelmingly support bold proposals to reverse inequality--- polices such as Medicare for all, free higher education, ending mass incarceration, wealth taxes on multi-millionaires, financial speculation taxes on Wall Street, public banks, immigrants rights, worker rights, a guaranteed job at a living wage, campaign finance reform, and a sustainable environment.  

Meanwhile, the Trump administration is doing all it can to accelerate inequality. The billionaire appointees, the Goldman Sachs economic advisors, the hollow health care and tax proposals all are designed to move more money into the hands of the few.

Unfortunately, the mainstream Democrats are hardly better when in comes to runaway inequality.

Yes indeed, also about the utterly corrupt Democrats. (And for the Trump administration see item 6 below.)

Here is a summary of what the years since Reagan became president bought to the non-rich and to the rich (also under Obama):

  • Over the last 37 years, America’s top 10 percent saw their incomes rise by 115 percent and the top 1 percent saw an incredible rise of 198 percent. Meanwhile, the bottom half of all American earners not only failed to see any gain at all, but their incomes actually declined by 1 percent from 1978 to 2015, according to research by Thomas Piketty.
  • During the Obama years "the top 1 percent of families captured 52 percent of total real income growth per family from 2009 to 2015 while the bottom 99 percent of families got only 48 percent of total real income growth," reports inequality expert, Emanuel Saez

Most politicians and pundits throw their hands up in despair. They argue there is really nothing we can do about rising inequality because of the powerful impacts of global competition and automation. Those who are falling behind just don't have the skills needed to prosper in the modern world. Life is unfair. Get used to it.

No. Life is unfair because the few rich make in unfair, and they make it unfair so that they can profit and remain rich, indeed precisely because the vast majority of all men remain poor: What the many loose, the few get.

And as I said yesterday, I believe there is no need and no necessity whatsoever for this extremely unjust arrangement:

My own position about exploitation is (..) in the end ethical: I think people are - often mercilessly, often cruelly - exploited not for any real objective reasons, but because the exploiters made the ethical judgements that their rights and their welfare come first, and that those who have either money or power therewith have the means and the justification to exploit those without either.

That is all "the necessity" I can discern: The combined wishes, powers and wealth of the very rich, compared to the virtually negligent powers and wealth of the very many poor they exploit.

To return to the article: The mainstream Democrats have convinced themselves that, despite the Sanders surge, most Americans do not support bold policies to reverse runaway inequality. These officials believe that most Americans reject "socialistic" programs. 

Does a social democratic program appeal to most Americans?

We decided to test the mainstream Democratic Party phobias by asking 200 randomly selected 18 to 40 year-olds to evaluate a strong platform aimed at reversing runaway inequality. 

I leave the rest to your interests. It is fairly interesting and indeed it turns out that between 2/3 and 3/4 of those polled are for the "socialistic" programs, but I do have one remark: It seems to me these outcomes are the replies to straight questions, which in fact are rarely posed in elections.

Even so, this is fairly interesting and a recommended article.

5. The Pro-War Twist of the ‘Resistance’

The fifth article  is by James W. Carden on Consortiumnews:
The article starts as follows:
The Resistance, a self-aggrandizing term for what amounts to a relatively small but still powerful claque of embittered Clinton surrogates, has been keeping itself busy of late, fanning the flames of McCarthyite recriminations against anyone who dares question the rather flimsy public evidence that Russia influenced the results of the 2016 election, all the while cheering on President Trump’s expansion of the war in Syria.

Like its approach to the question of Russia and the election, the Resistance will brook no dissent over whether or not President Trump did the “right thing” in unleashing 59 Tomahawk missiles on a country which we are not at war with and which has never attacked us.

As with their hysterical claims that Russia stole the election from Hillary Clinton, the Resistance is loathe to allow facts, logic or evidence to get in the way of its view that Donald Trump acted in the security interests of the United States by bombing the Syrian military which (with air support from the Russians) is currently in the process in routing ISIS and Al Qaeda.

Yes, I think that is mainly correct. Also, here are two personal remarks.

First, I did view a few of Keith Olbermann's videos, who set himself up as spokesperson for The Resistance, but I completely stopped doing so after he turned out to be a total follower of the idea "that Russia stole the election from Hillary Clinton", which he plugged without the least evidence, and against the strong claims of people like William Binney (<-Wikipedia) and Ray McGovern (<-Wikipedia), who insisted that there was no evidence, while there should have been.

Meanwhile, we are months further, and there still is no evidence, but indeed this does not stop people claiming to speak - on videos, on TV - for "The Resistance" and to repeat the unevidenced story "that Russia stole the election from Hillary Clinton".

I don't like liars nor deceivers, and this is one reason why I totally stopped following "The Resistance".

There also is a second reason: Both of my parents and my grandfather were in the Dutch resistance to the Nazis in WW II. My mother was never arrested (in spite of running considerable risks), but both my father and his father were arrested. My
father was tortured, didn't speak and afterward tried to commit suicide out of fear for a second time, but that attempt failed, though he also wasn't interrogated anymore. What happened to my grandfather when arrested I don't know, but both my father and  my grandfather were convicted, by collaborating Dutch judges, as "political terrorists", in July of 1941, to concentration camp imprisonment, which my grandfather (already in his 60ies) did not survive.

When I think of "the resistance", I think of what I know, and what I know about resisting the Nazis in no way corresponds to the present "#Resistance" to Trump, which indeed seems to be run mostly by supporters of Clinton from American TV-studios.

There is more in the article, which is recommended. (And indeed no: "#Resistance" is not the resistance, but it is mostly Democratic propaganda supporting Hillary Clinton.)

6. Trump's Corporate Takeover Detailed 100 Days into 'For-Profit Presidency'

The sixth and last article today is by Lauren McCauley on Common Dreams:
This starts with a fine summary (of awful policies):
"The true depth of the administration's unswerving commitment to an especially savage version of corporate capitalism is now, as we approach the first 100 days under the Trump administration, utterly clear."
The article itself starts as follows:

President Donald Trump approaches his 100th day in office the most unpopular U.S. leader in modern history for a reason.

Exacerbating his failure to uphold his populist campaign promises, a new report found that Trump spent the majority of his presidency enriching his own business empire while appointing fellow "corporate cronies" at the highest levels of government leading to what Public Citizen describes as "an unprecedented corporate takeover."

Published on Monday, For-Profit President (pdf), chronicles each day of Trump's tenure thus far and what actions or appointments were made that either enriched his private business empire, placed the importance of "profits before people," or highlighted the "corporate takeover" of government—despite candidate Trump's repeated pledge to "drain the swamp."

I say, for I did not know that. And I recommend you to download or view For-Profit President (pdf): It is quite interesting, and is indeed a day-by-day review of the first 100 days of Trump's presidency.

Here are a few of its findings:

The consumer rights group notes that the "wealthy members of Mar-a-Lago have an unprecedented degree of access and influence with the President of the United States. Members include fossil fuel billionaire William Koch, the lesser-known brother of the more politically active Charles and David Koch, electronic trading billionaire Thomas Peterffy, and various corporate executives." 

Public Citizen filed that day's event under both "corporate takeover" and "enriching private business." (Notably, on Day 6 of the presidency, the resort "doubled its initiation fee to $200,000.")

Exemplifying "profits before people," on Day 55, Trump ordered a review of the Environmental Protection Agency's fuel efficiency standards, which was done "in apparent response to direct lobbying by the automobile industry."

"America has never seen anything like this," declared Public Citizen president Robert Weissman in a column on Monday. "The corporate capture began at the same moment as the Trump presidency," Weissman observed, adding that "its been downhill since then."

I think Robert Weissman is correct (but it seems the corporate capture started even before Trump became president).

And here is a sum-up by Weissman:

Touching upon many of the more egregious actions outlined in the report, Weissman noted that Trump's pro-corporate capstone appears to be his swift rollback of public health, labor, and environmental regulations. He wrote:

Trump has eagerly signed into law a series of deregulatory measures to undo Obama administration achievements, using an obscure legislative vehicle known as the Congressional Review Act. Industries that have collectively spent more than $1 billion on lobbying and campaign contributions have seen their investments pay off many times over. Trump has gleefully signed measures making it easier for coal companies to pollute streams and rivers; authorizing Big Oil to hide payments to developing country governments; erasing obligations for government contractors to ensure the safety and health of their employees; and making it possible for cable and Internet providers to collect and sell our most personal information. It's hard to imagine there's anyone in the United States, not connected to Comcast, Verizon or another telecom company, who favors giving the telecoms the right to traffic in our personal data.

Yes indeed. But - I am very much afraid - that is the probable future (apart from an economic crisis worse than in 2008):

Everybody who is not rich will be fully known in his thoughts, his values, his desires, his income, his health, his payments etc. etc. so that he can be exploited, propagandized, and deceived as well as is possible by the few rich, for these few (and their menials) now know millions of times more about you and everyone else than they knew before the computer + the internet - and they now also can buy all the information they want, at least in the USA, from the internet service providers...

And this is a recommended article.


[1] As you may know, the only reason I did not make an M.A. in philosophy is that I was quite illegally - but I was also ill, and I anyway could not find a lawyer who wanted to upset the Social Democrats by supporting me (!!) - removed from the right of taking the examination very briefly before taking it.

In any case, I know a lot about philosophy and about ethics, and here is my own summary of my own ethics in a memorable form that dates back to 1983/4:
  • Don't be MAD; don't SIN.
where "MAD" is an acronym for "Mean, Angry, Dishonest" and "SIN" an acronym for "Stupidity, Ignorance, Negligence. (And incidentally, also because this was meant to be memorable: Originally I had "Greedy" for "Mean".)

There are three reasons to mention this:  I like my ethical code (which is simpler than my ethics, but easily memorable and adequate); I do think that stupidity and ignorance
are far more important than most people seem to think (and I insist that both can be remarkably lessened by good education, which these days is - alas, alas - a rarity); and I also think these norms apply in the case of the recent interview Associated Press had with Trump, which was extraordinarily stupid and ignorant.

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