Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Crisis: NSA*2, Clintons, Democratic Party, Trump's Narcissism + Beats, Haight-Ashbury

Sections                                                                     crisis index

1. Summary
2. Crisis Files
    A. Selections from July 4, 2017
    B. Some backgrounds to the Beats and the Diggers

This is a Nederlog of Tuesday, July 4, 2017.

1. Summary

This is a crisis log but it is a bit different from how it was the last four years:

I have been writing about the crisis since September 1, 2008 (in Dutch) and about the enormous dangers of surveillance (by secret services and by many rich commercial entities) since June 10, 2013, and I probably will continue with it, but on the moment I have several problems with the company that is supposed to take care that my site is visible and my health.

As I explained, the crisis files will have a different format from July 1, 2017: I will now list the items I selected as I did before (title + link) but I add one selection from the selected item to give my readers a bit of a taste of the item linked.

So the new format is as follows:

      Link to an item with its orginal title, followed by
      One selection from that item (indented)
      Possibly followed by a brief comment by me (not indented).

This is illustrated below, in selections A.

2. Crisis Files

A. Selections from July 4, 2017

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. Hacks Raise Fear Over N.S.A.’s Hold on Cyberweapons

Twice in the past month, National Security Agency cyberweapons stolen from its arsenal have been turned against two very different partners of the United States — Britain and Ukraine.

The N.S.A. has kept quiet, not acknowledging its role in developing the weapons. White House officials have deflected many questions, and responded to others by arguing that the focus should be on the attackers themselves, not the manufacturer of their weapons.

But the silence is wearing thin for victims of the assaults, as a series of escalating attacks using N.S.A. cyberweapons have hit hospitals, a nuclear site and American businesses. Now there is growing concern that United States intelligence agencies have rushed to create digital weapons that they cannot keep safe from adversaries or disable once they fall into the wrong hands.

In brief: Everyone of any importance, including the NSA, the FBI and the CIA gets tracked by many spies.

2. How Hillary Clinton’s Goldman Sachs Speeches Cost Her the 2016 Electio

Between April 2013 and March 2015, Hillary Clinton gave 91 paid speeches averaging $235,304.35 apiece, for a total of $21,648,000. Three weeks after delivering the last speech, on April 12, 2015, Clinton announced her second bid for the presidency. During the campaign she steadfastly refused to release transcripts of her Wall Street speeches. But on October 7, 2016, WikiLeaks published the full transcripts as part of its Podesta email release.

Clinton spoke to just about anyone who would pay, including a scrap metal and recycling conference in Las Vegas, the automobile dealers association in New Orleans and the National Association of Convenience Stores in Atlanta. Clinton said that fees from speeches at universities went to the Clinton Foundation and not directly into her pocket. That didn’t stop students at the University of Nevada Las Vegas protesting her $225,000 haul as the university was hiking tuition.

Excerpts in this book are principally from the three speeches she gave in 2013 to Goldman Sachs executives for a total of $675,000. Asked by CNN’s Anderson Cooper at a town hall event in New Hampshire on February 3, 2016, whether it was a mistake to accept that much money, Clinton responded: “That’s what they offered.”
This is quoted from the introduction of quotations from a new book about Hillary Clinton. And this is from the Wikipedia article on Bill Clinton:
In 2016, Forbes reported Bill and Hillary Clinton made about $240 million in the 15 years from January 2001 to December 2015 (mostly from paid speeches, business consulting and book-writing)

3. The Democratic Party’s Deadly Dead-End

In their recent campaigns, Sanders and Corbyn laid out specific progressive policies to address the real-life problems facing their constituents and their countries and to raise taxes on the wealthy and corporations to fully fund healthcare, education and other vital public services. This represents a dramatic U-turn from the vague, deceptive talking points of “center-left” Democratic, Labour and Socialist politicians of the past generation, under cover of which they quietly sold out their constituents to corporate, plutocratic and military-industrial interests.

In 2002, when Margaret Thatcher was asked to name her “greatest political achievement,” she smiled her best cat-that-swallowed -the-canary smile and purred, “Tony Blair and New Labour.”

The true measure of the Reagan-Thatcher counterrevolution was not how Reagan and Thatcher changed their own parties’ policies but that they remade their opposition in their own image and thus marginalized progressive politics for a generation in both their countries, clearing the way for the neoliberal transformation of society.

Reagan and Thatcher launched a race to the bottom that politicians in France, Germany, Japan and the rest of the developed world soon joined in with. They slashed taxes on the wealthy and corporations, cut funding for everything but weapons, war and debt, privatized public services, and abandoned the principle that the wealth and power of wealthy countries should benefit all their people.

This is an interesting article, that includes information on the noble Obama:
Once elected, Obama dropped more bombs and missiles on more countries than Bush, and expanded the violence and chaos of Bush’s “war on terror” to Libya, Syria and Yemen. Obama spent more money on weapons and war than any president since World War II (even after adjusting for inflation) (...)

4. The Constant White House Enabling of Trump's Perverse and Pervasive

One of the number one rules for getting along with narcissists is that you never say anything that disrupts their seat at the center of universe. Their views predominate, their needs are paramount, and their moral judgment of everything in the world is based on whether it affects them positively or negatively, according to their view.

In other words, reality—or any sense that there's an alternative truth to that of the narcissists'—is a malignant proposition that must be vanquished at once.

As pr*sident, Donald Trump's narcissistic tendencies first expressed themselves from the White House briefing podium when Press Secretary Sean Spicer argued against all evidence that the attendance at Trump's inauguration exceeded that at President Obama's. It seems almost quaint now—partly because the clear pictorial evidence made it so laughable—but that was an inaugural glimpse of where we were headed, pardon the pun.

I like the "pr*sident". I am not an American, and I can't honor the function with a man like Trump filling it. Also, I am a psychologist who thinks - like many psychologists and psychiatrists - that Trump is a narcissist, which is a personal pathology that makes him totally unfit for any public function (and the above quotation explains why).

5. Even Powerful Senator Can’t Get U.S. Intelligence Agencies to Tell Him
     Whether They’re Spying On Him …

Agencies Have Gone Rogue … With No Oversight

A powerful Senator – a member of the Armed Services and Judiciary Committees, the Subcommittee on Defense of the Appropriations Committee, and Formerly on the Select Committee On Intelligence (Lindsey Graham) – asked the general counsel for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence:

  • If the government was spying on him when he was speaking with foreigners
  • Whether his identity had been “unmasked”
  • And whether this information could be used for blackmail by politicians who don’t like him

The counsel for the intelligence agency refused to respond: (...)

Which they can do because they have appropriated the power. This is a good article on Washingtons Blog, from which I quote one more bit, basically because it is by William Binney who knows the NSA as very few do:

Washington’s Blog asked the highest-level NSA whistleblower of all time – Bill Binney* – what he thought.

Binney responded:

"They won’t tell him because his communications with foreigners and domestically [background] are being collected and probably targeted. That’s why they don’t ever want to tell senators or representatives or the president or federal judges etc. their communications are collected and scanned.

Further, they won’t tell them how many US citizens are in their databases … again because it’s about 280 million by my estimates.

All of these acts are crimes against the constitution and laws of the US which should put them in jail. (see attached)

These letters are a direct violation of the intelligence acts of 1947 and 1978. But, who cares, the intelligence community runs the US government anyway."

B. Some backgrounds to the Beats and the Diggers

The following to articles are not related to the crisis (except perhaps quite indirectly) but they give good information about the the Beat Generation (<-Wikipedia) and
Haight-Ashbury (inspired in part by the Beat Generation), that again was part of the Hippie movement.


Late last spring, I drove up the coast from Los Angeles in search of surviving members of the Beat Generation. Interview times had been procured with the poets Ferlinghetti (now 98), McClure (84), Snyder (87), and Diane di Prima (82), as well as Beat-adjacent novelist Herbert Gold (93). When I told people about my plan, the most common response was, “They’re still alive?” After all, the loose collective’s three most famous avatars are long gone. William S. Burroughs and Ginsberg died within four months of each other in 1997. After chronic alcoholism, Kerouac’s organs finally burst in 1969.
More than a half-century after their emergence, the Beats still offer up wild style, a sense of freedom and wonder for the natural world almost unrivaled in postwar literature. But their work has perhaps been more misinterpreted than nearly any literary group in history — partially because there was no consistent ideology binding them. As Ferlinghetti put it succinctly: “The Beat Generation was just Allen Ginsberg’s friends.”

I like this article, which is both rather long and is written by someone who does know quite a lot about the Beat Generation (<-Wikipedia): If you don't know much about them, this is a quite good start.

By the way: I like McClure and Snyder, but did not and do not like Ginsberg and Burroughs, but these are my personal judgements. Also, the Beat Generation is not only of some literary importance, but also of considerable social and ethical importance.

And here is an answer to the question: Why are these people still alive in their 80ies or 90ies? Seeing that - for example - quite a lot of the San Francisco Diggers meanwhile died? I do not know, but my guess is that they probably did not use hard drugs (as was and is very sensible) [1].

7. Haight-Ashbury Videos

As my readers may know, I got interested in the San Francisco Diggers [2] this year, that arose in 1966 in
Haight-Ashbury more or less simultaneously with the - much wider - Hippie movement.

Also, while I did know some about the SF Diggers and Haight-Ashbury since 1967 (I was born in 1950, but in Holland, not in the USA) I only tried to find out considerably more than I knew before in 2017, and that turned out to be a bit more difficult than I expected.

There are several reasons for this, and one is that it all happened decades before there was internet. But the present article is quite good and comes with three links that I liked because they do render the Sixties more or less as I remember them (albeit from Amsterdam, Holland).

This article starts as follows:

Haight-Ashbury in the Sixties! CD-ROM

This documentary garnered critical acclaim and reviews that referred to it as “An unflinching, nonjudgmental chronicle” (Wired), “Inspires then and now connections, fulfilling any historical work’s highest calling” (S.F. Examiner), “Truly greater than the sum of its parts” (N.Y. Post) — at a time when interactive documentaries and musical experiences were new to the digital media. The following 3-part rockumentary is an excerpt from this CD-ROM (now out of print).

Also, this is from from, where there is a quite interesting series: Haight-Ashbury in the Sixties. Recommended!

[1] This also is one of my fundamental disagreements with the Diggers: They should not have used hard drugs. (I never did, although I did take LSD, mescaline and marijuana in the late Sixties).

[2] I remarked yesterday - see here - that
I like(d) Wikipedia, but I fear these days many entries are modified by people who are in the pay of the Koch brothers or other rich rightists. (I have no proof, but I have been reading a whole lot of the Wikipedia for many years. Also, I never contributed to Wikipedia, in part because the contributors are anonymous: I dislike people who cannot possibly be found out personally.)
The information on Wikipedia about the San Francisco Diggers is one example: It gets steadily worse, and now the fine French film about the Diggers, that was freely accessible for years, also has been made private - which is totally against Digger principles.

Gore Vidal (<-Wikipedia) said in 2008 that he thought that the internet-as-was-then would be dead in ten years or so. It may take a little longer, but that seems to be the near future: You will be spied upon by all governmental spies (from anywhere: all they need to do is tap the cables), and by extremely many corporations that want to find out what you think, feel, and desire, and most things worth knowing
will be harder and harder to find, or be privatized.

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