January 5, 2018

Crisis: On Dissent, Dissidence in the USA, Trump's Businesses, World From Hell, Totalitarianism


1. Summary
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from January 5, 2018.


This is a Nederlog of Friday, January 5, 2018.

1. Summary

This is a
crisis log but it is a bit different from how it was the last five 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 more than 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 I shall continue.

Section 2. Crisis Files

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

A. Selections from January 5, 2018

These are five crisis files that are all well worth reading:
1. An Officer’s Path to Dissent
2. We Must Fight to Protect Dissident Voices in the U.S.
3. Trump Is Still Involved in His Business Ventures All Over the World—Is
     That Constitutional?

4. Mapping a World From Hell
5. 2017 Was The Year of Technocracy
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. An Officer’s Path to Dissent

This article is by Maj. Danny Sjursen on Truthdig. It starts as follows:

For a while there, I was a real star. High up in my class at West Point, tough combat deployments in two wars, a slew of glowing evaluations, even a teaching assignment back at the military academy. I inhabited a universe most only dream of: praised, patted and highly respected by everyone in my life system and viewed as a brave American soldier. It’s a safe, sensible spot. For most, that’s enough. Too bad it was all bunk. Absurdity incarnate.

The truth is, I fought for next to nothing, for a country that, in recent conflicts, has made the world a deadlier, more chaotic place. Even back in 2011—or even 2006, for that matter—I was just smart and just sensitive enough to know that, to feel it viscerally.

Still, the decision to publicly dissent is a tough one. It’s by no means easy. Easy would be to go on playing hero and accepting adulation while staying between the lines. Play it safe, stick to your own, make everyone proud. That’s easy, intellectually immature—the new American way.

Yes indeed: I think that is correct. And Maj. Danny Sjursen is one of the few professional military men in the American army (it seems) who did think and who came to the conclusion that he could not support the warmaking the Americans have engaged in ever since 9/11 (and also see in this connection item 4 below).

And because he also spoke up, Maj. Danny Sjursen now is counted as a dissenter:

When you take the journey of dissent, you lose friends, alienate family, confuse confidants and become a lonely voice in your professional world. I’ve spent years sitting in military classrooms from West Point to Fort Knox to Fort Leavenworth as the odd man, the outlier, the confusing character in the corner. It’s like leaving the church, becoming an atheist, all while still living in the monastery.

In fact, there is considerably more there, that I leave to your interests. His article ends as follows:

I’ll likely die a sad man. This much I know.

But for now, I can give voice to a different path, a nobler cause, a chance, at least a chance, of common sense, sober strategy and, just maybe, a semblance of peace—something a whole generation has never known. In my own minuscule way, I’ll try.

We, the few of us who care to question, owe at least that much.

I agree - and one of the sad things is that few American military men (all of whom are professionals since Nixon privatized the American army) have followed the path taken by Maj. Danny Sjursen.

2. We Must Fight to Protect Dissident Voices in the U.S.

This article is by Glen Ford on Truthdig and originally on Black Agenda Report (BAR). It starts as follows:
Sixteen months ago, The Washington Post issued the equivalent of “wanted” posters targeting more than a dozen of the most effective left-wing sites on the internet—including Black Agenda Report, the only Black-managed operation singled out for suppression. Since then, the radical sites slimed as “Russian propaganda outlets and sympathizers” by Prop-or-Not, the Post’s shadowy “source,” report having lost on average nearly half their Google search-generated audiences. BAR editors have also noted a drastic drop in the number of our own articles that come up in routine Google searches, compared to pre-November 2016. BAR’s internet profile has been methodically shrunken.
Yes indeed: I know about the "Prop-or-Not" bullshit and wrote about it in Nederlog, and I am quite willing to believe Glen Ford on the consequences this utter bullshit had on BAR's internet profile. (Also, I refuse to use Google - a neofascist corporation in my estimate, and if you disagree do check the last link - but then I am also one of the very few to take that consequence.)

Here is a diagnosis of what was happening 16 months ago, which is to a considerable extent still happening:
There really is a vast conspiracy to strangle radical dissent in the United States, under the broad heading of suppressing “Fake News”—meaning reporting, analysis and advocacy that challenges the corporate narrative. The most active early conspirators emerged from Hillary Clinton’s campaign tent, packed with Wall Street and Silicon Valley operatives, lobbyists for all the profiteers of imperialist war, most of the corporate media, and the spies, assassins and information manipulators of the national security state. All were now Democrats (...)
Yes, I think that is quite probably true.

I also agree with the underlying point that in fact - when these facts are restricted to planned policies - there was not much to choose between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, at least not with regard to many dominant themes like the prominence of the bankers and the desirability of more war. Then again, I also insist - and I am a psychologist - that there was (and is) one key difference between Clinton and Trump: Clinton is not mad while Trump is, and this does make an important distinction, at least from my point of view.

Here is some more on the messaging of the present leaders of the Democratic Party:
Amazingly, the Democrats attacked Trump from the right, reprising the McCarthy era of three generations ago. Trump was soft on the Kremlin, which is depicted as the home of Euro-Asiatic totalitarianism, no matter who is actually in charge.
Yes, this is what did happen, although possibly I was considerably less amazed than Glen Ford (although I don't know this):

After all, the major difference between the present Democrats and the Democrats of the Sixties and the Seventies is that the present Democrats have been in large majority been bought by the banks whose interests they so willingly serve, for payment.

Anyway... there is some more in the article, that is recommended.

3. Trump Is Still Involved in His Business Ventures All Over the World—Is That Constitutional?

This article is by Heather Digby Parton on AlterNet and originally on Salon. It starts as follows:
Over the holidays, a little Daily Beast story by Betsy Woodruff passed under the radar. She reported that Donald Trump is still personally involved in running his businesses. The media didn't pay much attention, but perhaps that's not surprising, considering that nobody in a million years actually believed Trump was going to leave his company solely in the hands of his two scions, Donald Jr. and Eric. After all, he's spent a third of his first term making personal promotional appearances at Trump properties. He's not exactly keeping it on the down-low that he's still got his hand in the business.
Yes indeed - and I also agree with Parton that this does seem to contradict the constitutional duties that an American president does have (that also includes declaring his taxes, that Trump also refuses to do).

Here is some more:

Trump's never really been committed to being a full-time president. At a press conference in January, Trump announced he had turned down a $2 billion deal just the week before. He said, "I didn't have to turn it down because, as you know, I have a no-conflict situation because I'm president, which is — I didn't know about that until about three months ago, but it's a nice thing to have." He added:

I could actually run my business and run government at the same time. I don't like the way that looks but I would be able to do that, if I wanted to. I'd be the only one that would be able to do that. you can't do that in any other capacity. But as a president I could run the Trump Organization -- great great company -- and I could run the country. I'd do a very good job but I don't want to do that.

He later told the New York Times, "In theory I could run my business perfectly and then run the country perfectly."

Yes, "[i]n theory" (Trump's own theory) Trump is the greatest genius ever to become American president, but then there are not many who believe in Trump's theories, and these cover most of the 30 procent or so of support he presently has, as president (which is very low).

And here is a finding of McClatchy, that is reported in more detail in the article:

[McClatchy's] reporters gathered information from countries all over the world where existing Trump properties and "deals" exist and found that:

[G]overnments have donated public land, approved permits and eased environmental regulations for Trump-branded developments, creating a slew of potential conflicts as foreign leaders make investments that can be seen as gifts or attempts to gain access to the American president through his sprawling business empire.

The Trump Organization dismissed all this, but the money involved is huge and it puts Trump right in the crosshairs of the emoluments clause.
Precisely - and "the emoluments clause" specifies Trump's duties as president, which it seems fair to say that Trump, so far at least, has wiped his ass with.

And this is a recommended article.

4. Mapping a World From Hell

This article is by Tom Engelhardt on Common Dreams and originally on TomDispatch. This is from near the beginning:
Once upon a time -- in October 2001, to be exact -- Washington launched its war on terror.  There was then just one country targeted, the very one where, a little more than a decade earlier, the U.S. had ended a long proxy war against the Soviet Union during which it had financed, armed, or backed an extreme set of Islamic fundamentalist groups, including a rich young Saudi by the name of Osama bin Laden.  By 2001, in the wake of that war, which helped send the Soviet Union down the path to implosion, Afghanistan was largely (but not completely) ruled by the Taliban.  Osama bin Laden was there, too, with a relatively modest crew of cohorts.  By early 2002, he had fled to Pakistan, leaving many of his companions dead and his organization, al-Qaeda, in a state of disarray. 
In fact, this article is - to a considerable extent, at least - a history of the development of "The War on Terror", that in my view was a war that may have been designed to subject most of the world to the terror of the American war machine, that is far more powerful than the war machine of any other nation.

Here is some more, still from 2001:
The top officials in the administration of President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney were geopolitical dreamers of the first order who couldn’t have had more expansive ideas about how to extend such success to -- as Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld indicated only days after the 9/11 attacks -- terror or insurgent groups in more than 60 countries.  It was a point President Bush would reemphasize nine months later in a triumphalist graduation speech at West Point.  At that moment, the struggle they had quickly, if immodestly, dubbed the Global War on Terror was still a one-country affair.
Quite so, and namely Afghanistan, though that was rapidly changed. Here is more:

And it's a tale that's not over yet.  Not by a long shot.  As a start, in the Trump era, the longest war in American history, the one in Afghanistan, is only getting longer.  There are those U.S. troop levels on the rise; those air strikes ramping up; the Taliban in control of significant sections of the country; an Islamic State-branded terror group spreading ever more successfully in its eastern regions; and, according to the latest report from the Pentagon, “more than 20 terrorist or insurgent groups in Afghanistan and Pakistan.”

Think about that: 20 groups.  In other words, so many years later, the war on terror should be seen as an endless exercise in the use of multiplication tables -- and not just in Afghanistan either.
One may also put the above in more literal terms:

If 17 years of "fighting terrorism" by larger military terrorism from the USA, has produced "
“more than 20 terrorist or insurgent groups", the 17 years of "fighting terrorism" by more military terrorism from the USA, has only resulted in bringing vastly more terrorism to the world then there was in 2001.

And that seems correct to me. Here is more on the development of terrorism since 2001:
The Costs of War Project has produced not just a map of the war on terror, 2015-2017 (released at TomDispatch with this article), but the first map of its kind ever.  It offers an astounding vision of Washington’s counterterror wars across the globe: their spread, the deployment of U.S. forces, the expanding missions to train foreign counterterror forces, the American bases that make them possible, the drone and other air strikes that are essential to them, and the U.S. combat troops helping to fight them.
Yes indeed - quite so. I have not copied that map but you are strongly recommended to view it (by going to the original).

Next, there is this, on the truly enormous extension of extremely widespread terrorism that "The War on Terror" by the USA gave to the world:
No less stunning are the number of countries Washington’s war on terror has touched in some fashion.  Once, of course, there was only one (or, if you want to include the United States, two).  Now, the Costs of War Project identifies no less than 76 countries, 39% of those on the planet, as involved in that global conflict. 
And I think this estimate is very probably quite correct. Here is more on how much that "War On Terror" has cost:
In a separate study, released in November, the Costs of War Project estimated that the price tag on the war on terror (with some future expenses included) had already reached an astronomical $5.6 trillion.  Only recently, however, President Trump, now escalating those conflicts, tweeted an even more staggering figure: “After having foolishly spent $7 trillion in the Middle East, it is time to start rebuilding our country!”
The war on terror has, in fact, spread in the fashion today’s map lays out with almost no serious debate in this country about its costs or results.  If the document produced by the Costs of War project is, in fact, a map from hell, it is also, I believe, the first full-scale map of this war ever produced.
I think that may very well be correct, although I don't know. Here is the last bit that I quote from this fine article:

Let me repeat this mantra: once, almost seventeen years ago, there was one; now, the count is 76 and rising.  Meanwhile, great cities have been turned into rubble; tens of millions of human beings have been displaced from their homes; refugees by the millions continue to cross borders, unsettling ever more lands; terror groups have become brand names across significant parts of the planet; and our American world continues to be militarized

This should be thought of as an entirely new kind of perpetual global war.
Yes, I completely agree and this is a strongly recommended article. 

5. 2017 Was The Year of Technocracy

This article is by James Corbett on Rigged Game and originally on Steemit. This is from near its beginning:

As I indicated at the start of the year, my point isn’t that there’s something new in the concept of rule by a technological/scientific/engineering “expert” class. As attentive viewers of Why Big Oil Conquered the World will recall, that idea has been kicking around under the name “technocracy” since Howard “Total Fraud” Scott and King “Peak Oil” Hubbert incorporated Technocracy Inc. in 1933, and it was kicking around under other names before then.

And it’s not that there’s some new trend in technology itself. Granted, the one thing that Kurzweil and the singularists are right about is that the rate of technological innovation is exponential, but I’m not saying 2017 marked some magic inflection point in that exponential trend.

My point is that the PR campaign for technocracy has now kicked into full swing, and we’re starting to see what a world of tech gadgets engineered and programmed by an elite technocratic class (at the behest of their billionaire backers) would really look like. And as scary as that prospect is, that’s not the worst part. The worst part is that the vast majority of the general public is going to clamor for such a world.

Yes, precisely so: " The worst part is that the vast majority of the general public is going to clamor for" a world in which they can sell all their privacies to enormous corporations, and are paid by a membership in Suckerbug's Fuckbook plus personally targeted advertisements that may save them a few dollar cents.

And I agree with Corbett that this is both extremely sick and based on the virtual total misunderstanding of computing and its powers in more than 1 to 5% of the internet users.

Here is some more:

We live in a world where a little device is sitting their in our homes (well, not my home, but you get my meaning) listening to absolutely everything we say and do, recording that data and (presumably) beaming that info back to its corporate mother ship. And this is not some nightmarish sci-fi dystopia where Big Brother has forced everyone to install this dastardly device. People buy it.

And they want it, like it, and are proud of it - although as most 1 in 20 knows about computers and their powers.

Here is more, this time by the neofascists from Amazon:

So perhaps it is appropriate to cap this Year of Technocracy with this little nugget of news: Amazon has just revealed that its best-selling item this holiday shopping season was (..) the cute little "smart speaker" that allows you to (as the tagline puts it) "add Alexa to any room" is now available for the low low price of $30! How could you afford not to put this totalitarian tyrant's wet dream in every nook and cranny of your always-on 24/7 smart house?!

Again precisely so - but James Corbett is one of the relatively few who understand computing and its enormous dangers, indeed especially in feeding all the private thinking, talking, deciding and sleeping to some enormously big and quite anonymous neofascist corporation: That is totalitarianism on a scale that has never ever been practised (except in the Wikipedia's views, according to which no person, no public, no ideology, and no propagada can ever be totalitarian, for the only ones that can be totalitarian - according to the lying Wikipedia - are ... states. Not persons, not publics, not ideologies and not propaganda: all are excluded by the lying Wikipedia. [2])

Here is more on the sick and sickened desires of the public to share everything they feel, want, do, believe, and owe with some utterly anonymous exploitative corporation:

The Echo Dot sales figures show that the public is literally buying into the dream of the technocrats (and, more to the point, their billionaire backers). Which means that the technocrats are actively engaged in selling this dream to the public. Which means that the public's acceptance and adoption of this vision is important to the would-be rulers of society. Which means that, as with every other agenda that I identify and rail against, it is still up to the public whether they will passively allow (or even participate in) their own enslavement, or whether they will steer these trends in a different direction.

But then most though not all of the public is both stupid and ignorant and extremely much propagandized by their papers, by their TVs, and by the internet. In fact, here is a quotation
Étienne de La Boétie, whose Discourse on Voluntary Servitude  has been (in full) on my site, indeed both in English and in Dutch, for six years or more now:

It's a simple point, and it was made with eloquence by Étienne de La Boétie in The Discourse on Voluntary Servitude almost 500 years ago, but it bears repeating:

"He who thus domineers over you has only two eyes, only two hands, only one body, no more than is possessed by the least man among the infinite numbers dwelling in your cities; he has indeed nothing more than the power that you confer upon him to destroy you. Where has he acquired enough eyes to spy upon you, if you do not provide them yourselves? How can he have so many arms to beat you with, if he does not borrow them from you? The feet that trample down your cities, where does he get them if they are not your own? How does he have any power over you except through you? How would he dare assail you if he had no cooperation from you? What could he do to you if you yourselves did not connive with the thief who plunders you, if you were not accomplices of the murderer who kills you, if you were not traitors to yourselves? You sow your crops in order that he may ravage them, you install and furnish your homes to give him goods to pillage; you rear your daughters that he may gratify his lust; you bring up your children in order that he may confer upon them the greatest privilege he knows — to be led into his battles, to be delivered to butchery, to be made the servants of his greed and the instruments of his vengeance; you yield your bodies unto hard labor in order that he may indulge in his delights and wallow in his filthy pleasures; you weaken yourselves in order to make him the stronger and the mightier to hold you in check. From all these indignities, such as the very beasts of the field would not endure, you can deliver yourselves if you try, not by taking action, but merely by willing to be free. Resolve to serve no more, and you are at once freed. I do not ask that you place hands upon the tyrant to topple him over, but simply that you support him no longer; then you will behold him, like a great Colossus whose pedestal has been pulled away, fall of his own weight and break in pieces."

We have a choice in all of this.

Yes, "we have a choice" - but my own family background, with a grandfather murdered by the Nazis, a father locked up more than three years and nine months as a "political terrorist" by the Nazis, and a mother in the real resistance against the Nazis (who murdered more than 110,000 Dutch "Jews" in WW II, also with considerable help by many Duchmen) strongly suggests to me that at most 1 in 20, or indeed 1 in a 1000, are capable of both seeing the dangers that threaten many and having the courage to resist it.

In brief, while I agree with everything Corbett says, I am quite pessimistic, though I grant that in Holland my own family was one of a very small minority who did resist the Nazis (and was almost destroyed for having that intelligence and that courage).


[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 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] I am sorry if you disagree, but I have studied totalitarianism since over 50 years, and I never saw a - false, lying, degenerate - "definition" of it as the Wkipedia now provides. I am sorry, but my belief in the Wikipedia has been transformed from well over 50% to 0%: Their definition of "totalitarianism" is intentional utterly false propagandistic bullshit that makes everyone from George Orwell onwards, including myself, big liars. Thank you, lying propagandists of Wikipedia!!

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