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Nederlog

February 12, 2018

Crisis:  On Oligarchs, Spies as "Journalists", U.S. Intelligence, Trump vs Deep State, Sinclair



Sections
Introduction

1. Summary
2.
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from February 12, 2018.

Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Monday, February 12, 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, but since 2010 in English) 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 February 12, 2018

These are five crisis files that are all well worth reading:
1. The Deadly Rule of the Oligarchs 
2. Journalist Warns About Ex-Intelligence Officials in Media
3. U.S. Intelligence Crisis Poses a Threat to the World
4. Donald Trump v. the Spooks
5. Sinclair Solicits Contributions From Employees for Right-Wing PAC
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. The Deadly Rule of the Oligarchs

This article is by Chris Hedges on Truthdig. It starts as follows:
Oligarchic rule, as Aristotle pointed out, is a deviant form of government. Oligarchs care nothing for competency, intelligence, honesty, rationality, self-sacrifice or the common good. They pervert, deform and dismantle systems of power to serve their immediate interests, squandering the future for short-term personal gain. “The true forms of government, therefore, are those in which the one, or the few, or the many, govern with a view to the common interest; but governments that rule with a view to the private interest, whether of the one, of the few or of the many, are perversions,” Aristotle wrote. The classicist Peter L.P. Simpson calls these perversions the “sophistry of oligarchs,” meaning that once oligarchs take power, rational, prudent and thoughtful responses to social, economic and political problems are ignored to feed insatiable greed. The late stage of every civilization is characterized by the sophistry of oligarchs, who ravage the decaying carcass of the state.
Yes indeed, though I should point out that "oligarchy" means "rules of the few", while Aristotle's judgement of "perversion" does not apply to the rules of the few as such, but to the rule of the few in the interests of the few.

And also it should be pointed out - see oligarchy - that Aristotle considered that oligarchy (in the last sense, as rule by the few for the few) normally is rule by the rich, that also may be named plutocracy.

Then there is this:
Oligarchs, though they speak of deconstructing the administrative state, actually increase deficits and the size and power of law enforcement and the military to protect their global business interests and ensure domestic social control. The parts of the state that serve the common good wither in the name of deregulation and austerity. The parts that promote the oligarchs’ power expand in the name of national security, economic growth and law and order.  
Well... yes and no.

I agree with Hedges that the present government of the USA is much more like an oligarchy, in Aristotle's second sense, and I also agree with Hedges that the current oligarchs of the USA, who are the rich and those in government in their pay or under their influence, does the things he says they do.

But I probably disagree with him in his implication that the present modes of enrichment of the rich are the same as they were a hundred years ago, two hundred years ago etc.

And in fact I also think that the present tactics of the rich - I think that is a somewhat better term than "oligarch" - have several sides that were absent or much less prominent in previous tactics of the rich:

Deregulations made the rich independent from the incomes of their home nations, and is anyway a new tactic (that opposes Keynesianism, that tried to impose capitalism-with-a- human- face, but failed over the oppositions of the rich, that first got power with Reagan and Thatcher), while the surveillance by the secret services of almost any state of the opinions, the values, the private opinions, the incomes, the health, the education and indeed absolutely anything whatsoever that can be downloaded by way of the internet, is a source of power and the possibility to tyrannize - literally - billions by the - very, very - few that absolutely no one - also not Hitler, Stalin or Mao - had as much as 1 promille of, in spite of having very effective secret services and police.

Here is more by Hedges on oligarchs:
Oligarchs, who do not serve in the military and who ensure their children do not serve in the military, pretend to be great patriots. They attack those who oppose them as anti-American, traitors or agents for a foreign power. They use the language of patriotism to stoke hatred against their critics and to justify their crimes. They see the world in black and white—those who are loyal to them and those who are the enemy.
Again yes and no, and on the same grounds as above, and with an addition by me:

For this kind of propaganda to be successful, it is required that those who are to be deceived by it need to be a considerable group and need to be too stupid or too ignorant to see through the fact that the black and white reality they approve of is in fact not real but made up of lies and propaganda.

And this is about the facts of the American oligarchic state:
There is little dispute that we live in an oligarchic state. The wealthiest 1 percent of America’s families control 40 percent of the nation’s wealth, a statistic similar to what is seen globally: The wealthiest 1 percent of the world’s population owns more than half of the world’s wealth. This wealth translates into political power.
Yes. Incidentally: (1) "oligarchy" means "rule of the few"; (2) "the few" in the present world are the rich; (3) the proof that the few rich are an oligarchy is that 1% of all human beings control half or more of everything there is to control; and also (4) in the present world, it simply is a fact that money = power if one has enough of money: money easily buys power, and power easily grabs more money.

Here is more by Chris Hedges:
Oligarchs accelerate social, political, cultural and economic collapse. The unchecked plunder leads to systems breakdown. The refusal to protect natural resources, or the economic engines that sustain the state, means that poverty becomes the norm and the natural world becomes a toxic wasteland. Basic institutions no longer work. Infrastructure is no longer reliable. Water, air and soil are poisoned. The population is left uneducated, untrained, impoverished, oppressed by organs of internal security and beset by despair. The state eventually goes bankrupt. Oligarchs respond to this steady deterioration by forcing workers to do more for less and launching self-destructive wars in the vain attempt to restore a lost golden age. They also insist, no matter how bad it gets, on maintaining their opulent and hedonistic lifestyles.
Again this does seem to me to describe the current oligarchs (of whom Trump is an excellent example), but less obviously earlier oligarchs.

Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:
“The political role of corporate power, the corruption of the political and representative processes by the lobbying industry, the expansion of executive power at the expense of constitutional limitations, and the degradation of political dialogue promoted by the media are the basics of the system, not excrescences upon it,” the political philosopher Sheldon Wolin wrote in “Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism.”
(..)
" In the last analysis, the much-lauded stability and conservatism of the American system owe nothing to lofty ideals, and everything to the irrefutable fact that it is shot through with corruption and awash in contributions primarily from wealthy and corporate donors. When a minimum of a million dollars is required of House candidates and elected judges, and when patriotism is for the draft-free to extol and for the ordinary citizen to serve, in such times it is a simple act of bad faith to claim that politics-as-we-now-know-it can miraculously cure the evils which are essential to its very existence.”
Yes indeed. Wolin was quite right that a political system that requires that one has - somehow - available a million dollars to become a member of the House or a judge in the present USA is in fact out and out oligarchic, simply from the meaning of that term.

There also is considerably more on Sheldon Wolin in several of my Nederlogs from 2014, and the best entry to all of them I wrote on November 8, 2014 (with quite a few links to earlier articles by Hedges on Wolin).

Finally as to this article: I agree with Aristotle and Hedges that oligarchy is a clear sign of corruption, and that the present USA is an oligarchy, but I don't quite agree with Hedges on past oligarchs, though I agree with him on the present oligarchs in the USA.

And this is a recommended article.

2. Journalist Warns About Ex-Intelligence Officials in Media

This article is by Emily Wells on Truthdig. It starts as follows:
Former intelligence officers are joining mainstream news networks as analysts with increasing frequency—a pattern that threatens the independence of the American press, warns journalist Caitlin Johnstone, who writes at Consortium News:
More and more of the outlets from which Americans get their information are being filled not just with garden variety establishment loyalists, but with longstanding members of the U.S. intelligence community. These men got to their positions of power within these deeply sociopathic institutions based on their willingness to facilitate any depravity in order to advance the secret agendas of the U.S. power establishment, and now they’re being paraded in front of mainstream Americans on cable news on a daily basis. The words of these “experts” are consistently taken and reported on by smaller news outlets in print and online media in a way that seeds their authoritative assertions throughout public consciousness.
A recent example is John Brennan, who was CIA director from 2013 to 2017 and who joined NBC News and MSNBC this month as a senior national security and intelligence analyst.
I completely agree with Caitlin Johnstone: Media that pay (previous) spies and deceivers to bring the news are completely corrupt and in fact probably buy these spies and deceivers in order to deceive their ordinary public.

Also - since Frank Zappa, George Carlin, Bill Maher and myself seem to be the only people who complain about the stupidity and the ignorance of the majority of the American voters, at least to the best of my rather extensive knowledge - let me state again that one important condition for the corrupt spies to be successful (in deceiving the majority of the public) is that the majority of the public either is naturally stupid or else has been made stupid by very bad education.

And the majority of the American voters are being deceived successfully.

Here is more on more former American spies who now deceive the public as "journalists":
The Real News names other former U.S. intelligence officers who can be seen on television and points out that these hires are not always friendly to journalists. Michael Hayden, who was the director of both the CIA and the National Security Agency, was hired as a CNN national security analyst, though he has likened Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald to the devil and joked about wanting to put whistleblower Edward Snowden on a kill list. Others include John Kirby, a retired admiral and a former spokesman for the State Department, and Lisa Monaco, who was Homeland Security adviser under President Obama. CNN also hired Phil Mudd, former deputy director of the CIA’s Counterterrorist Center, as an analyst.

Johnstone concludes:
Time and again you see connections between the plutocratic class which effectively owns America’s elected government, the intelligence and defense agencies which operate behind thick veils of secrecy in the name of “national security” to advance agendas which have nothing to do with the wishes of the electorate, and the mass media machine which is used to manufacture the consent of the people to be governed by this exploitative power structure.
Yes, I agree with Johnstone, and this is a recommended article.

3. U.S. Intelligence Crisis Poses a Threat to the World

This article is by George Eliason on Consortiumnews. It is the first of three articles (and I do not know yet whether I will review the other two) and it starts as follows, with a subtitle:
Privatized and politicized intelligence is undermining the mission of providing unbiased information to both high-level decision makers and the American public, explains George Eliason in this first of a three-part series.
Well... I agree to a considerable extent, but I would have replaced the term "intelligence" by a term like "lies or propaganda" (for it is biased information).

Here is the plan for the three-part series by Eliason:
(..) if U.S. intelligence are questionable and untrustworthy, there is no single greater threat to the planet today. Members of an intelligence community who try to circumvent the democratic process should be prosecuted no matter who they are or who they are trying to undermine.

This three-part article series is a top-down look at the deep state. Its purpose isn’t to identify every company and every player. Instead, this lead-in is a primer showing the layout of the land at the highest levels and why things have gone so very wrong inside the intelligence community.

In fact - and see e.g. item 1 - I do not think that the vast majority of the "[m]embers of an intelligence community who try to circumvent the democratic process" will be prosecuted. (I agree with Eliaston that they should be, but with Hedges that it is too late for this to happen, except very occasionally, perhaps).

As to the deep state: See here and here. This is about part two of the series:

The second part will show how the top level relates to the next level down with contractors and companies that deal with public issues, public policy, and commit illegal actions. You’ll see what it looks like when people that have taken the mantle of national security use the tools for their own profit, politics, and prejudices.

And this is about part three:

The third part will explicitly show how this threat translates into the real world to unsuspecting people because they didn’t agree with someone they don’t even know exists. This is the reality when the destruction of your life, reputation, wealth, employment, and relationships become a payable item on someone else’s invoice. The sad fact is your innocence means as much to them as the pleas for mercy from the last “bad guy” they shot in a video game. For them, it’s only a game. You are a troll, not a human being.

I haven't seen these two parts either.

Also, as to the last quoted bit: In fact, I guess that the vast majority of those who currently use computers (i) do know very little and do care very little about the fact that everything they do with a computer may be - and probably is - downloaded by competely anonymous members of very many secret services (that include the Chinese and the American ones), which also means that (ii) the vast majority now may be arrested by the police for doing something that "didn’t agree with someone they don’t even know exists", namely one of very many secret services that in fact know most or all things the subjects they spy upon do with their computers, and that happens to be friends with the police in one's country.

Here is more by Eliason:

For all practical purposes, effective control of the NSA is with private corporations, which run its support and management functions. As the Washington Post’s Walter Pincus reported last year, more than 70 percent of the staff of the Pentagon’s newest intelligence unit, Counterintelligence Field Activity, is made up of corporate contractors.

Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) lawyers revealed at a conference in May that contractors make up 51 percent of the staff in DIA offices. At the CIA, the situation is similar. Between 50 and 60 percent of the workforce of the CIA’s most important directorate, the National Clandestine Service (NCS), responsible for the gathering of human intelligence, is composed of employees of for-profit corporations.

I did not know this (and like some confirmation by other sources), but if this is true it means that the American secret services are in fact mostly run by private corporations - which means in all probability that most of what "the U.S. secret services know" in fact also will be known by their private contractors, and by the bosses of these private contractors (for they pay their menials who work for the secret services, and not - anymore - the government).

Here is more on the same subject:

“More than 70 percent of the Pentagon’s Counterintelligence Field Activity (CIFA) unit is staffed by contractors, known as ‘green badgers,’ who also represent the majority of personnel in the DIA, the CIA’s National Clandestine Service, and the National Counterterrorism Center,” according to an article by Simon Chesterman in The European Journal of International Law. At the CIA’s station in Islamabad contractors reportedly outnumber government employees three to one, Chesterman points out.

Private companies have been utilized to carry out torture and have misused sensitive information collected by intelligence agencies, and yet almost every intelligence and most field roles are being turned over to private companies that get contracts because of “new” problems – crises, influence operations, hacking, danger, threats, or dossiers their companies or related companies happen to find.

I say - and no (or yes): I do regard all of this private contracting by national secret services as gross corruption itself. (There need to be secret services of some kind in the present world. But these must only report to their government, while absolutely everything should be done to keep them from growing corrupt. The present set-up seems the precise opposite of this.)

And here is still more on the subject:

Chesterman’s paper identifies work given to corporations or individuals that should remain a strictly governmental function is now in the hands of companies that do it for hire. For-profit companies are behind most of what the intelligence the agency heads and the president see. For-profit, companies look after their own bottom line, often producing biased information in the hopes of getting repeat business.

Also, because they are committed to their companies and not public service, the lines have been blurred to the point that some of these contractors no longer distinguish between the work they do for U.S. intelligence and security and what they can do legally in the civilian world. There is no difference and they have no problem plying the same tools and techniques on an unsuspecting public.

Yes, I agree this is the very likely outcome of the situation Eliason has sketched earlier. Here is the last bit I quote from the present article:

In a 2015 article at The Nation titled “How Private Contractors Have Created a Shadow NSA,” Tim Shorrock describes what he calls “the cyberintelligence ruling class.”

“Over the last 15 years, thousands of former high-ranking intelligence officials and operatives have left their government posts and taken up senior positions at military contractors, consultancies, law firms, and private-equity firms. In their new jobs, they replicate what they did in government—often for the same agencies they left. But this time, their mission is strictly for-profit,” Shorrock wrote.

And this is another likely outcome of the situation Eliason sketched above.

I admit I did not know most of the things Eliason says in this first article. And I certainly am curious about the other two articles. And this is a recommended article.


4. Donald Trump v. the Spooks

This article is by Annie Machon on Consortiumnews. I selected it because I have done earlier reviews of things she wrote. Also, it is a repeat on Consortiumnews (which I missed the first time):

From the Archive: Just before Trump took office last year, ex-British intelligence officer Annie Machon wrote about the battle he was facing with U.S. intelligence agencies. As Russia-gate morphs into Intel-gate, we re-publish her prescient article today.
This is from the beginning of the article:
The clash between plutocratic President-elect Trump and the CIA is shaping up to be the heavyweight prize fight of the century, and Trump at least is approaching it with all the entertaining bombast of Mohammed Ali at the top of his game. Rather than following the tradition of doing dirty political deals in dark corners, more commonly known as fixing the match, Trump has come out swinging in the full glare of the media.
Yes, though this does not mean Trump will not - also - follow "the tradition of doing dirty political deals in dark corners".

But OK. Here are the opponents of Trump:
In the opposite corner, Trump’s opponents have pushed the CIA into the ring to deliver the knock-out blow, but this has yet to land.
But who are "the opponents of Trump", that is, in the context of the American government, the American secret services, and the American rich? Here is Machon's answer:
So who are the opponents ranged behind the CIA, yelling encouragement through the ropes? The obvious culprits include the U.S. military-industrial complex, whose corporate bottom line relies on an era of unending war. As justification for extracting billions – even trillions – of dollars from American taxpayers, there was a need for frightening villains, such as Al Qaeda and even more so, the head choppers of ISIS.
And I agree that "the U.S. military-industrial complex" - a term of Eisenhower, in 1961 - are an important item, although Trump in fact has given them many billions in 2017 (after Machon wrote this article).

Here is more by Machon:
As former British MP and long-time peace activist George Galloway so eloquently said in a recent interview, an unholy alliance is now being formed between the “war party” in the U.S., the military-industrial-intelligence complex and those who would have previously publicly spurned such accomplices: American progressives and their traditional host, the Democratic Party.
I agree with Galloway, and the main reasons that the Democratic Party now works much more for the military-industrial-intelligence complex than for the American population that may have voted them in, is that one now needs a million dollars to make a chance of being elected to the Senate or the House, and these dollars have been provided by the banks to hopeful Democrats. And in effect this is corruption (which also made considerable millionaires out of the Clintons).

Here is Machon's opinion on "
the two-party system in both the U.S. and the U.K.":
These establishment forces have also revealed to the wider world a fact long known but largely dismissed as conspiracy theory by the corporate mainstream media, that the two-party system in both the U.S. and the U.K. is a sham. In fact, we are governed by a globalized elite, working in its own interest while ignoring ours.
Yes, I agree this is very probably quite true, and the reason is quite simple: By now, the rich rule everywhere, which they do in part by having corrupted the politicians who get elected.

Here is the last bit from Annie Machon that I quote:
Whether that was indeed the case, the CIA has certainly held back no punches
since Trump’s election. First the evidence-lite assertion that it was the Russians who hacked the DNC emails and leaked them to WikiLeaks: then the fake news about Russia hacking the voting computers; that then morphed into the Russians “hacked the election” itself; then they “hacked” into the U.S. electric grid via a Vermont utility.  All this without a shred of fact-based evidence provided (...)
Yes indeed - and now that we are more than a year further (for Machon's article was published in January 2017), all that bullshit from the CIA still stands, at least for the mainstream media.

And this is a recommended article.


5. Sinclair Solicits Contributions From Employees for Right-Wing PAC

This article is by Jessica Corbett on Common Dreams. This is from near the beginning:

In a Jan. 31 letter to newsroom directors from David Amy, the broadcaster's vice chairman and head of the Sinclair Political Action Committee, the company—known for its right-wing slant and fighting federal regulations to acquire 42 more stations from Tribune Media—urged its employees to "please take the time to evaluate the importance that the Sinclair PAC can have towards benefitting our company and the needs of the industry as a whole."

While a screenshot of the letter was posted to a television blog earlier this month, one of Sinclair's senior vice presidents confirmed its veracity to the Washington Post on Saturday, emphasizing that it was sent to news directors—"as a result of being part of our managerial level, not because of their role in editorial"—but not to reporters, anchors, or other lower-level employees.

Lewis Friedland, a journalism professor at the University of Wisconsin and a former TV news producer, told the Post that Sinclair's move "violates every standard of conduct that has existed in newsroom for the past 40 or 50 years."

"I've never seen anything like this," Friedland added. "They certainly have the right to do it, but it's blatantly unethical."

"In addition to breaking with journalistic tradition, the company's request could put its news directors in an untenable position," the Post notes. "Some news directors might feel that opting out would be perceived by their superiors as an act of disloyalty."

First, in case you need some background on the Sinclair Broadcast Group, it is under the last link and tells you that the group currently provides "the news" (and a lot more) to no less than 40% of all American households, while it also is known "for the conservative slant of their stations' local news reporting and other programming decisions".

Second, I have to admit that I am not quite certain of the import of the news this article brings, but it seems as if the Sinclair Broadcast Group wants its journalists to be loyal and self-declared proponents of its rightwing policies, and wants them to do so in personal statements to their directors.

More to follow, I suppose - and this article is here not because it is very clear, but because Sinclair does broadcast its rigth-wing news to no less than 4 out of every 10 American households.


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 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 (!!).


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