March 29, 2018

Crisis: Big Brother, Julian Assange, Rigged Census, John Bolton, Military Control of USA


1. Summary
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from March 29, 2018

This is a Nederlog of Thursday, March 29, 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 March 29, 2018
1. Big Brother Isn’t Watching You, You’re Watching Him! 
2. Ecuador Cuts Off Julian Assange’s Internet Access. Again.
3. If Trump Is Allowed to Rig the Census, Then All of U.S. Democracy Is

4. In John Bolton, Donald Trump Has an Adviser Who’s Radical Even by
     Neocon Standards

5. How the Military Controls America
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. Big Brother Isn’t Watching You, You’re Watching Him!

This article is by Tom Engelhardt on Truthdig. It starts as follows:
A record? Come on! Don’t minimize what’s happening. It’s far too unique, too unprecedented even to be classified as “historic.” Call it mega-historic, if you wish. Never from Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar to Soviet despot Joseph Stalin, from the Sun King Louis the XIV to President Ronald Reagan, from George Washington to Barack Obama, has anyone — star, icon, personality, president, autocrat, emperor — been covered in anything like this fashion.
Mr. Engelhardt is talking about Trump. Then again, he does not consider at least four things:

(1) Mr. Engelhardt himself has been writing - I think, and I am looking at his site every day - about Donald Trump for the most part; (2) in the last 10 years or so publishing something has been completely revolutionized: there are now more than 2 billion publishers (and most are morons, I am very sorry to say) and this absolutely never was the case; (3) as I have been argueing now since 2016, as a psychologist also, I think the tenthousands of psychologists and psychiatrists who have insisted that Trump is not sane are correct; and (4) besides: Trump does have an ideology, namely neofascism (but as hardly any journalist can define fascism in any reasonable way, even fewer journalists seem to know or to define neofascism).

But Engelhardt doesn't even mention any of these points, and besides I am far less certain that, at least when the extremely radical changes I mentioned under (2) are compensated for, that e.g. the decades of propaganda for Stalin (in the former Soviet Union), was considerably less radical than the propaganda for (and against) Trump.

Here is more by Engelhardt:
Here, in my opinion, may be the strangest thing of all. Who doesn’t sense just how unprecedented the media spectacle of our moment is? Every single day is a new Trump dawn, a new firing or appointment at the White House, a new tweet storm, a new outrageous statement or policy, a new insult, a new lie or misstatement, a new bit of news about Stormy Daniels or other women who — your choice — had affairs with, were groped by, defamed by, or silenced by him, and so on down an endlessly repetitive list of what has become “the news” more or less 24/7 or perhaps more accurately 24/365 (with not a holiday in sight).
Well... since 2013 I have been writing systematically about the crisis, and since 2013 I have also systematically consulted 35 sites every day. I admit I have published more about Trump than about Obama, but then there are extremely many more persons who can and do publish; Obama - much as I dislike him - was neither mad nor a neofascist, and Trump is both; Trump's new policies are very radical and strongly anti-democratic; and besides, if you are really displeased with the effects of Trump on your mind, you also are free to pay less attention to him.

Then there is this on the NYT:
Take my hometown newspaper, the New York Times. Never — of this I have no doubt — has it covered a president, his doings, and those of his administration this way. As it cuts its copyediting staff (and grammatical errors become a more regular part of its news reports), it has assigned a staggering number of reporters to Donald J. Trump and his doings.
Well... I don't like the NYT much, but I consult it daily. But this doesn't convince me at all: "a staggering number of reporters" is extremely vague and also, once again, Engelhardt does not mention the fact that there are now many more than 2 billion publishers, nor indeed the fact that 10 years earlier there were far fewer.

Then there is this:
Believe me, if this were happening in Russia or China (The cult of Putin! The cult of Xi!), it would be a major news story and treated as such.  After all, thought of a certain way, what we’ve been watching is indeed the creation of an all-American cult of personality (quite literally so when it comes to Trump’s “base,” as any of his rallies suggest).  And yet that and the media’s role in it isn’t news.
No, I am sorry: This seems mostly baloney to me, and certainly when none of the four reasons I mentioned above for the stronger interests in Trump and the spectacularly increased number of publications is considered at all.

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

Seven decades after Orwell’s dystopian classic 1984 was published, we in the United States do indeed find ourselves in a full-scale surveillance society — and that world, as Edward Snowden let us know in such a memorable fashion back in 2013, preceded Donald Trump.  But when it comes to Trump, here’s the curious thing that Orwell himself couldn’t have imagined: Big Brother isn’t watching us, we’re forever watching him.

No, I am sorry again: I have explained why there is much more attention on Trump than on any other American president (and an important one that Engelhardt missed is that there now are more than two billion publishers on the internet) - and besides: I am far less interested or concerned with people who are watching Trump than with the fact that it seems as if Google and Facebook (just these: there are several more of these gatherers) all have at least 6 Gigabytes of data on absolutely everyone (which is FAR more than will be gathered about you by the police in case you commit ten murders).

Here is a link to a recent bit on The Guardian, that I nowadays can't copy at all, not even their titles, but the following bit is quite interesting (and I list it as an exception):
The neofascists from Google know absolutely everything about you: A fairly unknown user downloaded the data Google know about him and it turns out they have 5,6 Gigabyte of data on him, that list absolutely everything he ever did with his computer, while Facebook on the same unknown user, has 600 MB ("which is roughly 400,000 Word documents").

I take it this is typical for everyone (and somewhat better known users may have many more data secretly extracted by these two neofascist sick, fraudulent psychopathic spies).

2. Ecuador Cuts Off Julian Assange’s Internet Access. Again.

This article is by Sewell Chan on The New York Times. It starts as follows:
Ecuador’s government said Wednesday that it had suspended internet access for Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder who since 2012 has lived in Ecuador’s Embassy in London, out of concern that he was harming its relationships with Britain and other European nations.
I say, for I did not know this - and yes, it has happened before (in 2016). And it was also mentioned on several other sites, but I copied The New York Times to ask whether this is their normal style of neofascistic totalitarian reporting.

In fact, I reread this whole sickening totalitarian (but not according to the anonymous neofascist propagandist who rewrote and falsified the item "totalitarianism" on Wikipedia) once more to detect a single word of praise or thanks in it, or the elementary consideration that Ecuador now wants Julian Assange - it seems - to say what they wish him to say or else to shut up.

There is no praise, no thanks, and not the least bit of elementary morality in this shitty piece of "journalism".

Here is the other bit I quote from it, which supports my claim that
Ecuador now wants Julian Assange - it seems - to say what they wish him to say or else to shut up:
Ecuador’s government granted Mr. Assange citizenship in January, the latest step in a longstanding diplomatic standoff. But it said it had suspended Mr. Assange’s online communications on Tuesday because he had imperiled “the good relations that the country maintains with the United Kingdom, with the rest of the states of the European Union, and other nations” through his social-media messages.
This is just as I said.

3. If Trump Is Allowed to Rig the Census, Then All of U.S. Democracy Is Rigged

This article is by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! It starts with the following introduction:
A new battle is brewing over the 2020 U.S. census. At least 12 states are moving to sue the Trump administration over plans to add a question about citizenship to the upcoming census. Voting rights activists fear the question will deter immigrants from participating in the census, leading to a vast undercount in states with large immigrant communities. This could impact everything from the redrawing of congressional maps to the allocation of federal funding. On Tuesday, White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the decision to add a citizenship question was “necessary for the Department of Justice to protect voters.” At least five former directors of the Census Bureau, who served under Republican and Democratic presidents, have written a letter opposing the citizenship question.
I take it this is correct, and I am interested, as a Dutchman, in American voting, simply because the outcomes (some of them) have effects far beyond the USA.

Here is more:

AMY GOODMAN: On Tuesday, White House spokesperson Sarah Sanders said the decision to add a citizenship question was, quote, “necessary for the Department of Justice to protect voters.”

PRESS SECRETARY SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS: The purpose is to determine individuals that are here. It also helps to comply with the Voting Rights Act.

AMY GOODMAN: At least five former directors of the Census Bureau, who served under Republican and Democratic presidents, have written a letter opposing the citizenship question.

For more, we’re joined now by Ari Berman, a senior writer at Mother Jones, author of Give Us the Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America. His new piece, just out today, headlined “Hidden Figures: The 2020 Census Will Shape the Future of Our Democracy.”

And here is Ari Berman:

ARI BERMAN: It’s one question, but it’s a huge question on a huge issue, because the census affects everything in American life, Amy. It affects how $675 billion in federal funding is allocated to states and localities. It affects how many congressional seats and electoral votes states get. It affects how local and federal districts are drawn. It affects the data that every institution in America, from corporations to universities to the military, uses to understand their populations. And so, if the census is rigged, if the census is manipulated, then all of American democracy is rigged and manipulated as a result.

And there has always been a tremendous undercount of people of color by the census. In the 2010 census, 1.5 million people of color were undercounted, were not counted by the Census Bureau. That undercount could be dramatically larger now under Trump, because immigrants are going to be afraid to respond to the census now. And so, what Donald Trump is doing is he’s turning the census, which is a constitutionally mandated act every 10 years, he’s turning the census into a tool of voter suppression and to a tool of nativist resentment. And that’s so shocking for our democracy.

Yes, I think all of that is correct, though I think it should have been added that there are two important reasons why the American census is important (and neither reason holds for - e.g. - Holland or Germany):

First, there are only two parties that get many votes in the USA (the Democrats and the Republicans), and secondly, in presidential elections, at least, the outcomes are fairly close between the Democrats and the Republicans).

Here is more:

PRESS SECRETARY SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS: Once again, I would argue that this has been practice of the United States government. The purpose is to determine individuals that are here. It also helps to comply with the Voting Rights Act. Without that information, it’s hard to make those determinations. And that information needs to be gathered, and it has been part of the United States census every time we’ve had a census since 1965, with the one exception of the 2010 census.

AMY GOODMAN: What about what Sarah Sanders said?

ARI BERMAN: Well, there’s two unbelievable lies that she told. The first lie that she told is that the citizenship question has been asked every census since 1965. In fact, it hasn’t been asked since 1950, when America was a segregated Jim Crow society. So it hasn’t been asked for nearly 70 years. Secondly, she said it was removed in 2010, which is completely untrue.

AMY GOODMAN: So, you’re talking about, it was—it wasn’t asked during Reagan years, during Bush years.

ARI BERMAN: No, it hasn’t been asked since 1950. The question was removed in 1950.

I say! Well... either Berman is a liar or Sarah Sanders is, and given the extremely widespread dishonesty of the White House I think Sanders is (but I do not know).

And here is the last question I consider in this review, which is rather important:

AMY GOODMAN: Ari, what do you say to those who say, “Well, undocumented people shouldn’t be represented in Congress. Undocumented people shouldn’t be getting federal funding.”

ARI BERMAN: Well, it’s always been the case that districts have been drawn based on total population, not citizenship. This actually just went to the Supreme Court a few years ago. And the Supreme Court, two years ago, ruled unanimously, 8 to zero, that districts should be drawn based on total population and not citizenship, because, they said, everyone who’s here deserves citizenship, deserves—”citizenship” meaning the ability to be represented, whether or not they are or are not a citizen. So, when there’s a fire, the fire department goes to your house, whether or not you are documented or undocumented. When you go to the hospital, they treat you, whether you are documented or undocumented. The census is the same way.

I think this is correct again, but I do not know. And this is a recommended article.

4. In John Bolton, Donald Trump Has an Adviser Who’s Radical Even by Neocon Standards

This article is by Natasha Ezrow on AlterNet and originally on The Conversation. It starts as follows:
The appointment of John Bolton to be the Trump administration’s third national security adviser in the past 14 months, signals a more confrontational approach to the world from an already belligerent regime. Bolton is one of the key figures of neoconservatism, a political tendency that believes that the US should pursue and defend primacy or unlimited power – especially by military means.
I think that is correct. Here is more:

When the Cold War ended, the US no longer faced a credible challenger to its military supremacy, and talks of pre-emptive military action were mostly shut down. But the neocons, concerned that US military spending was dropping again, never gave up their cause. Unlike conservatives who were reluctant to intervene militarily, they still advocated a much more hostile foreign policy, insisting that all options be kept on the table to tackle new “threats” facing the US.

They spent the 1990s crafting a blueprint for American power, which included military intervention and nation-building in the Middle East. With the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, this vision became Bush administration policy.
I think this is also mosty correct, though I do not quite know. Then again, Ezrow is quite right in suggesting that the 1990ies - the first time in 70+ years that Russian socialism was dead -
would have been a quite natural and good reason to spend considerably less on the military.

And this is on John Bolton, who does seem a dangerous idiot to me:

He continues to advocate attacking North Korea pre-emptively and scrapping the hard-won Iranian nuclear deal altogether. While Trump has become a critic of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Bolton was one of the biggest proponents of this strategy, boasting at the time that Iraqis would “welcome US troops”.

The new national security adviser has also been outspoken on his attacks of treaties and international institutions, among them the Kyoto climate convention and the International Court of Criminal Justice, and the United Nations, the very organisation to which he was ambassador. He famously said that “there is no United Nations”.
Yes indeed. Here is the last bit I quote from this article:
Whereas McMaster was a three-star general who was relatively cautious about taking military action, Bolton takes no options off the table. And whereas McMaster had a disciplined style and a better understanding of complex national security issues, Trump prefers to make his often rash decisions unimpeded. Bolton sees his job as to ensure that decisions of the president are not obstructed by bureaucracy or other branches of government. And like Trump, he has little respect for international law either.
Quite possibly so, and this is a recommended article

5. How the Military Controls America

This article is by Eric Zuesse on the Off-Guardian and originally on strategic-culture.org. It starts as follows:
Unlike corporations that sell to consumers, Lockheed Martin and the other top contractors to the U.S. Government are highly if not totally dependent upon sales to governments, for their profits, especially sales to their own government, which they control — they control their home market, which is the U.S. Government, and they use it to sell to its allied governments, all of which foreign governments constitute the export markets for their products and services.

These corporations control the U.S. Government, and they control NATO.
Actually, Lockheed Martin does some more than sell to governments, but it seems correct that almost 80% of its sales and incomes come from governments, of which the American government is by far the biggest customer.

And I do not know whether the "
top contractors to the U.S. Government" do "control" the U.S. government or indeed the NATO, but I agree their financial interests in the U.S. government are very big.

Here is more:
Because America (unlike Russia) privatized the weapons-industry (and even privatizes to mercenaries some of its battlefield killing and dying), there are, in America, profits for investors to make in invasions and in military occupations of foreign countries; and the billionaires who control these corporations can and do — and, for their financial purposes, they must — buy Congress and the President, so as to keep those profits flowing to themselves.
Actually, I do not know that "the billionaires who control these corporations can and do — and, for their financial purposes, they must — buy Congress and the President". I am willing to agree that they may, but I do not know.

There is some more about a huge military deal with Saudi Arabia ($350 billion worth), but I leave that to your interests.

Then there is this from Walter Lippmann, who wrote this at the very beginnings of the enormous expansions of advertisement in the USA, namely in 1921:
That the manufacture of consent is capable of great refinements no one, I think, denies. The process by which public opinions arise is certainly no less intricate than it has appeared in these pages, and the opportunities for manipulation open to anyone who understands the process are plain enough. The creation of consent is not a new art. It is a very old one which was supposed to have died out with the appearance of democracy. But it has not died out. It has, in fact, improved enormously in technic, because it is now based on analysis rather than on rule of thumb. And so, as a result of psychological research, coupled with the modern means of communication, the practice of democracy has turned a corner. A revolution is taking place, infinitely more significant than any shifting of economic power.
This needs at least two remarks:

First, "
the manufacture of consent" is fundamentally anti-democratic, but Lippmann was right that it was "capable of great refinements", quite a few of which were realized by Edward Bernays (who was another proponent of propaganda).

And second, while Lippmann was correct in saying that a "
revolution [was] taking place", I think he was mistaken about democracy: "the practice of" - real, actual, direct - "democracy" did not so much "turn(..) a corner": Real, actual and direct democracy mostly wholly disappeared, though indeed not only because of "the manufacture of consent" that the professional advertisers and propagandists engaged in.

Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:
(..) Alasdair Macleod said that, “The Deep State is on course to take control of Congress. If this happens, it will be the next step in a global trend of side-lining democracy in the West, driven in large part by American foreign policy. It has led to governments everywhere increasing control over their people, in an inversion of democratic principles.”
His conclusion is: “If the US military-intelligence complex manages to pack out Congress, it will be the killer blow for any democracy remaining in America. It will clear the field for a secret state organisation, which has shown little or no regard for human life and the rule of law, to accelerate its warlike agenda. It will have unfettered access to the national finances to accelerate its programme of global aggression, and damn the consequences for anyone else.”
Perhaps, though I believe things are more complicated than MacLeod seems to think.


[1] 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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