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Nederlog

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Crisis: Nuclear Arms, Insubordinates, McCarthyism, Political Cancer, ¨Russia-gate¨

Sections                                                crisis index
Introduction

1. Summary
2.
Crisis Files
    A. Selections from November 15, 2017 

3. Some more
Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Wednesday
, November 15, 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 will continue with it.

On the moment and since nearly two 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 will continue.

2. Crisis Files

These are five crisis files that are all well worth reading:

A. Selections from November 15, 2017
1. Congress Asks If Donald Trump Really Can Blow
     The World Up Without Restraints

2. An Insubordinate President
3. McCarthyism Inc.: Terror Cranks Sold America the
     Russia Panic

4. One Year Later: The Political Cancer Metastasizes
5. How to Instantly Prove (Or Disprove) Russian
     Hacking of U.S. Election
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.  Congress Asks If Donald Trump Really Can Blow The World Up Without Restraints

This article is by Aida Chávez on The Intercept. It starts as follows:

At his town hall meetings, Maryland Senator Ben Cardin, despite being the highest ranking Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, typically gets questions that are close to home. But lately, the question on people’s minds has turned more existential, perhaps the closest to home of all. People want to know, he said at a hearing on Tuesday, “Can the president really order a nuclear attack without any controls?”

That indeed is presently a quite good question. Here is the answer:

But nothing, as they say, focuses the mind quite like the sight of the nuclear gallows.

The president has the sole authority to decide whether to use nuclear weapons, an arsenal consisting of 4,571 warheads as of September 2015. There are no legal or political restraints on the president’s power to order a nuclear strike: the president is not required to consult with anyone beforehand, and the Defense Department, Congress, and the judicial branch have no way of blocking an order once it happens.

The answer is: No, Trump can blow up anyone he pleases. Here is some on how other countries tried to regulate the enormous dangers of using nuclear arms:

Other countries with nuclear capabilities have adopted models that don’t give the executive unilateral authority. India and Pakistan have both established councils to authorize the use of nuclear weapons, and Russia gives the president, defense minister, and chief of general staff access to the nuclear codes, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists.

In fact, I do not know (at all, indeed) whether the rules adopted by India and Pakistan will work.

Then again, these rules are considerably more rational than leaving blowing up the world in the hands of the malignant narcissist Donald Trump.

And this is a recommended article.


2. An Insubordinate President

This article is by Paul Street on Truthdig. It starts as follows:

“Insubordinate elites,” as the distinguished American foreign policy historian Alfred W. McCoy calls them, have long been a problem for the United States empire. They privilege their own personal interests and/or concept of serving their own nations above fealty to the United States, its allies and the Western-based multinational corporate and financial interests that reign behind the shield of U.S. power.

In fact, these ¨insubordinate elites¨ come in (broadly speaking) two forms: The Leftist and the Rightist.

There is a rather long list of both kinds of leaders, which is followed by this:

Which brings me to another violent and mean-spirited Obama-hater: Donald Trump. Incredible as it might seem, the United States, the global superpower itself, has been plagued by the presence of an insubordinate, dysfunctional, corrupt and excessively nationalistic elite in its own top “democratically elected” position—the U.S. presidency.

Trump is  [..]  a malignantly narcissistic real estate baron whose basic missions in life are to advance his own wealth and glorify his personal image and brand. He is venality and ego on steroids—too commercial and selfish to be an actual fascist, but an ugly epitome of the worst excesses of the capitalist, plutocratic, racist, sexist, militaristic and ecocidal American system.

The problem for the U.S. ruling class is that the American system and empire is compelled to sell itself as humanitarian, multicultural, peaceful, democratic, benevolent and wise. “The United States,” then-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said in 1999, channeling the establishment conventional “American exceptionalist” wisdom, “is good. We try to do our best everywhere.”

I think this is basically correct, except for one point: I do not think that Trump is an actual fascist, but one major reason why I do not think so is that I think he is a neofascist (and yes, I have very probably thought a lot more about fascism and neofascism than my readers, including virtually all journalists [2]).

Also, I agree also with the above diagnosis of the USA as a nation that presents itself ¨as humanitarian, multicultural, peaceful, democratic, benevolent and wise¨, and indeed also with the thesis that all of that self-representation is quite false propaganda.

Then again, Trump is not the only American political leader who tries to balance the propaganda about the USA with some of the facts about the USA:

“Our security,” Obama intoned in his first inaugural address, continuing the exceptionalist mythology as he prepared to commit new war crimes, “emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.”

It’s hard to match such nationally and imperially self-congratulatory rhetoric and marketing with the history, persona and conduct of “Prima Donald.”
And this is followed by - if I have counted well - an abbreviated (!) list of no less than 34 points of lies and propaganda that Trump indulged in, which is followed by these questions:
All of this raises an interesting question: How on earth did the nation’s unelected and interrelated dictatorships of money and empire let the vicious sociopath Donald Trump into the White House? Aren’t the wealth and power elite’s big-money-drenched and highly corporate mass-mediated candidate selection and vetting processes designed to prevent insubordinate elites (of whatever ideological or other persuasion) from rising into higher office?
I think both questions get answered, in principle at least, by the quite simple observation that things don´t always work out as planned. That is, I agree that Hillary Clinton was the favorite choice of the rich, but she ruined her own chances:
Trump owed much of his victory to the hopelessly dull and Wall Street-pleasing, proletariat-dismissing/-dissing Hillary Clinton campaign. The elitist and oligarchic Clinton was unwilling and perhaps unable to rally the Democratic Party’s purported lower- and working-class base. She foolishly assumed that popular horror at His Awfulness would provide all the mass mobilization she really needed.
I mostly agree. And this is a recommended article.

3. McCarthyism Inc.: Terror Cranks Sold America the Russia Panic

This article is by Max Blumenthal on AlterNet. This is part 2. Part 1 was reviewed yesterday in Nederlog. The present article starts as follows:

This September, Oklahoma GOP Senator James Lankford alleged that the widely popular #taketheknee Twitter hashtag that promoted NFL protests against racial injustice was, in fact, a Russian influence campaign spawned by Kremlin operatives.
(..)
The New York Times cited a new organization called the Alliance for Securing Democracy as the source of the allegations about the NFL protests. According to the Times, the ASD has tracked 600 Twitter accounts supposedly “linked to Russian influence operations” and exposed their nefarious agenda.

Then again, this ASD is quite probably not at all what it claims it is:

According to the New York Times, the ASD is a “public policy research group in Washington,” and a “bipartisan initiative” with no apparent agenda other than scrubbing the stain of subversion out of American democracy. Hosted by the German Marshall Fund, one of the most respected think tanks in Washington, the ASD has been granted the patina of credibility.

However, an investigation by AlterNet’s Grayzone Project  has yielded a series of disturbing findings at odds with the established depiction. The researchers behind the ASD’s “dashboard” are no Russia experts, but rather a collection of cranks, counterterror retreads, online harassers and paranoiacs operating with support from some of the most prominent figures operating within the American national security apparatus.

To repeat (bolding added): ¨the ASD’s “dashboard” are no Russia experts, but rather a collection of cranks, counterterror retreads, online harassers and paranoiacs¨.

That is, they are propagandists for the right:

In recent days, the ASD’s master Kremlinologists have branded major American online outlets including the Intercept, Antiwar.com, ESPN, and even the U.S. military newspaper Stars and Stripes as vehicles for Kremlin propaganda.

There is a lot more in this article, that is recommended.


4. One Year Later: The Political Cancer Metastasizes

This article is by Neal Gabler on AlterNet and originally on BillMoyers.com. It starts as follows:

Exactly one day short of one year after the election of Donald Trump, the fog finally seemed to lift and the skies brightened. On Tuesday, voters rejected Trumpism in New Jersey and in Virginia, where establishment Republican Ed Gillespie embraced Trump’s racism and nativism, indicating how deeply the president’s poison has penetrated even the precincts of the party that should be vigorously in opposition to it.

I do not quite agree for the simple reason that this optimism is based on just one or two winnings by the Democrats that - for all we know - may be flukes, while the Republicans also still have the government, the Senate and Congress.

But here is some more:

And yet, before anyone gets too sanguine, consider where we are. There will come a time, no doubt, when professional historians look back on these times and assess what happened to America, and I don’t think the assessment will be pretty. They will think of it as a period of national derangement, a time when America lost its bearings.

I agree this is ¨a period of national derangement¨, but I do not know it will end, nor do I know it will not end in a nuclear war (that may destroy all human beings), and I am sorry (a bit) that I am a realist.

Here is more about Trump:

Trump’s real accomplishment goes far deeper and is far more destructive than his attempts to repeal Obamacare -or revoke environmental protections or banking regulations or any of the other dozens of things he has tried to do and sometimes did. After last Nov. 8, this suddenly became a different country than it had been. Not only had the skeletons come out of the closet, they were leading the parade. No, America was never what it had purported to be. The idealism was always better in theory than in practice. We were always too self-congratulatory, too fixated on American exceptionalism, on ideas like The Greatest Generation, overlooking a fundamental fissure.

I think this is mostly true (and I am not an American). And this is about the madness Trump does indulge in:

When he is called the “divider-in-chief,” the label goes beyond his incendiary rhetoric to a zero-sum blame game. Whatever ails his supporters, he says, is the result of someone having taken something from them. His tweets are aimed squarely against immigrants and minorities who he believes have stolen the country away from the white Americans (white male Americans) who rightfully should control this country.

He nurses grievances, he advances conspiracy theories, he exacerbates angers, he scapegoats. He has opened wounds that had taken a century to begin to heal. And globally, he has given the middle finger to the rest of the world while lowering the nation’s standing and offending our allies while embracing our biggest enemy. He has stressed might over morality. In short, his is the authoritarian playbook.

I am a psychologist and I do not believe that Trump is only implement- ing the ¨authoritarian playbook¨: He is, but if I am reading him well, he is mostly implementing his own madness, precisely because that is what he is.


5. How to Instantly Prove (Or Disprove) Russian Hacking of U.S. Election

This article is by Washington´s Blog on his site. It starts as follows:

It’s newsworthy that CIA head Mike Pompeo recently met
with Bill Binney – who
designed the NSA’s electronic surveillance system – about potential proof that the DNC emails were leaked rather than hacked.

It’s also noteworthy that the usual suspects – Neocon warmongers such as Max Boot – have tried to discredit both Binney and Pompeo.

But there’s a huge part of the story that the entire mainstream media is missing …

Specifically, Binney says that the NSA has long had in its computers information which can prove exactly who hacked the DNC … or instead prove that the DNC emails were leaked by a Democratic insider.

Remember – by way of background – that the NSA basically spies on everyone in America … and stores the data long-term.

Yes indeed: I do agree that ¨the NSA basically spies on everyone in America … and stores the data long-term¨ and this is quite relevant, as indeed will be explained in the present article.

Here is more on Binney´s ideas, which I think are quite relevant and also were not known to me until reading this article:

After the story of Pompeo’s meeting with Binney broke, Binney told Washington’s Blog:

Here’s what they would have from the programs you list [i.e. NSA’s Fairview, Stormbrew and Blarney spying programs, which Edward Snowden revealed] plus hundreds if not thousands of trace route programs embedded in switches in the US and around the world.

First, from deep packet inspection, they would have the originator and ultimate recipient (IP) of the packets plus packet series 32 bit number identifier and all the housekeeping data showing the network segments/path and time to go though the network.  And, of course, the number of packet bits. With this they would know to where and when the data passed.

From the data collection, they would have all the data as it existed in the server taken from.  That’s why I originally said if the FBI wanted Hillary’s email, all they have to do is ask NSA for them.

All this is done by the Narus collection equipment in real time at line rates (620 mbps [mega bits per second,] for the STA-6400 and 10 gbps [giga bits per second] for the Insight equipment).

Binney explained what these numbers mean:  Each Narus Insight device can monitor and record around 1,250,000 emails each second … or more than 39 trillion emails per year.

Wired reported in 2006:

Whistle-blower Klein allegedly learned that AT&T was installing Narus boxes in secure, NSA-controlled rooms in switching centers around the country.

Binney told us there are probably 18 or so Narus recording systems throughout the U.S. deployed by the NSA at AT&T facilities (...)

That is to say:

(1) According to Binney - whom I trust, and far more than functionally anonymous journalists with little or no programming knowledge - the NSA does know and have Hillary´s emails, indeed in part because
(2) the NSA has probably installed 18 ¨
Narus recording systems throughout the U.S. deployed by the NSA¨; and
(3) these scan at least 620 MB per second (and probably more), which means that
(4) the NSA can ¨read¨ (by computers) 1,250,000 emails each second, per Narus computer, of which there are some 18, only in the USA (and store the results in the personal dossiers of whomever they stole these private data from).

Here is more on what these supercomputers may do to your email and the emails of anyone else anywhere:

Binney also sent me hard-to-find company literature for Narus.  Here are some interesting excerpts:

NarusInsight …

  • Provides full visibility into network traffic
  • Analyzes at macro or micro level targeting specific or aggregate full-packet data for forensic analysis

And:

Universal data collection from links, routers, soft switches, IDS/IPS, databases, etc. provides total network view across the world’s largest IP networks.

Binney also pointed me towards a couple of network engineering principles that show that figuring out who hacked the emails (or proving they were leaked) is well within NSA’s capabilities.

In short, everything anyone says to anyone anywhere (that is not encrypted) probably does end up in an NSA database.

There is quite a lot more in this quite interesting article, which ends as follows:

NSA either doesn’t have solid evidence of Russian hacking of DNC emails – which means the Russians didn’t do it – or those with the power to demand NSA produce the evidence simply haven’t asked the right questions.

I think that the probability that the NSA does not ¨have solid evidence of Russian hacking of DNC emails¨ is much stronger than the other alternative, and this is a strongly recommended article.

3. Some more

And here is some more from Chris Hedges: He interviewed Stuart Ewen, who is known to me from ¨The Century of the Self¨. This is a video that takes around 25 minutes:
I think this is very well worth seeing, if only because of facts like these:

The average American saw 2000 advertisements every day in 1977; while
the average American saw 5000 advertisements every day in 2016.

And I did not know that, but it supports my convictions that the average Westerner these days sees and reads very much more propaganda, advertisements, and lies then he or she sees or reads anything rational.

There is a lot more in the interview, that in part repeats points made in
The Century of the Self. I think it is very well worth seeing.

------------------------------
Note

I have now been saying since the end of 2015 that xs4all.nl 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 1 1/2 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 (!!).

[2] And namely because both my parents were in the real resistance against the Nazis (which was quite rare in Holland), and both my father and his father were betrayed in June 1941, arrested, and convicted by collaborating Dutch judges to concentration camp imprisonment, which murdered my grandfather. (And I do not know of any Dutch journalist with such a background.)
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