March 30, 2018

Crisis: Inverted Justice, Facebook Regulated?, Trump Is The Worst, On John Bolton*2


1. Summary
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from March 30, 2018

This is a Nederlog of Friday, March 30, 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 30, 2018
1. Our Criminal Justice System Serves to Protect the Villains 
2. The U.S. Government Is Finally Scrambling to Regulate Facebook
3. Is Trump The Worst President In American History?
4. Stopping War Pusher John Bolton, Trump’s Choice for National
     “Insecurity” Advisor

5. For Bolton, the Slaughter of 1 Million Iraqis Is a Job Qualification
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. Our Criminal Justice System Serves to Protect the Villains

This article is by Lee Camp on Truthdig. It starts as follows:

Recently, a hero got sentenced to three years in jail. I’m not talking a traditional hero who gets saluted during halftime shows because when he was 18, he went to a country he’d never heard of, to shoot at people he’d never heard of (who we’re not even technically at war with), and he did it all to get enough money to attend college, because college is too fucking expensive. We all know that’s a real hero. No, I’m talking about a climate activism hero.

Michael Foster is one of five climate activists who broke through a chain-link fence and, in a grotesquely criminal act, shut off TransCanada’s oil flow for a few hours. For stopping the oil, he got three years in jail. However, for actually drilling that oil and destroying our environment, polluting the land and water and risking our future—the heads of these oil companies get “sentenced” to zero years in jail. They instead get billions of dollars and private jets.
I say, for I did not know this. In case you are not impressed by this example, please read on. And on the moment I merely observe that one major difference between Michael Foster and the CEOs or the owners of TransCanada is that Foster is not rich, while the leaders of TransCanada almost certainly are very rich.

Here is some more of the same:
This proves our society is backward. The actions that are illegal versus legal are inverted from what they should be in an evolved culture. A few weeks ago, nine activists with the organization No More Deaths were arrested for leaving jugs of water in the desert to help migrants dying of thirst. That’s illegal. They were charged, basically, with littering. But it’s not illegal to buy up all our clean water, even near Flint, Mich.
And in case you are not impressed by this example, please read on - and yes: the "activists" who were arrested for leaving some water in the desert again are not mega rich, and probably not rich at all.

Then there is this:
What does illegal even mean anymore? In our land of the free, it’s illegal to feed the homeless in some states.
Well... "illegal" means "against the law". And "the law" of a (more or less modern) society basically consists of written regulations that say what (adult) members of that society should or should not do in certain circumstances, together with associated punishments (fines, imprison- ments) for those who (provably) broke the law.

There is nothing in "the law" that guarantees it is honest, fair, decent, moral, or ethical in any sense, but it is also true that, certainly in Western Europe and the USA, there is or was a sort of common sense agreement that considerable parts of the law are meant to guarantee that some measure of honesty, fairness, decency, morality or ethics is being kept up by "the law" and indeed also by the officials who see to the laws functioning (the police, mostly).

And fundamentally Lee Camp's argument is that (i) the
common sense agreement that considerable parts of the law are meant to guarantee that some measure of honesty, fairness, decency morality or ethics, in fact has been and is being broken down to a considerable extent, while (ii) "the law" that remains are basically especially those rules that help the rich and very rich to get more riches.

I think that argument is basically correct, and indeed Camp could have added: (iii) the main reason that "the law" now favor the few rich at the costs of the many poor and non-rich is that the few rich bought most of the members of the Senate and the House to do for them what they want to see done for them.

I think the addition is correct as well, although I am willing to agree that "the law" is quite complicated in any case, and also that there still are quite a few legal rules that are actively maintained or obeyed by the large majority, of people in the USA, since we are really talking about the USA.

Now consider this list
of legal facts in the current USA or in considerable parts of it, and remember that I have shortened additional clarications that are in Camp's text:
Also illegal is housing the homeless.

Also illegal: having cocaine or heroin or selling marijuana in most states. Not illegal: making billions of dollars from the opioid crisis that’s killing hundreds of thousands of people.
It’s illegal to camp in this country, yet it’s legal for our military to camp out in Iraq, Afghanistan, Niger, Syria, Germany, Cuba, Djibouti, South Korea. We fucking love camping out all over the world. We have military bases in 70 percent of the world’s countries.
Illegal: The crime of secretly filming a slaughterhouse. Yes, in some states people were arrested for filming the abuse of farm animals. Not illegal: abusing farm animals.

Also not illegal: filming every human being in this country at all times. Cameras are on every lamppost, stop light and storefront. Soon, those cameras will have facial recognition software. Our government spies on us constantly at all hours on all our devices and says it’s perfectly legal. But you bring home a tape of a piglet getting flat-out tortured, and that’s not permissible because it might harm the profits of the factory farm corporations.

Illegal: Laughing at Jeff Sessions during a Senate hearing. Because that type of free speech is “dangerous.” On the other hand, it’s completely legal to spout full-on propaganda daily like CNN or Fox News or MSNBC does.
Illegal: To stage a die-in protest to call attention to people murdered by police. Legal: For police to murder people. And our police do it far more than any other country.

As I said: There is much more text in the original article.

Here is the the last bit that I quote from this article, that is from the ending, and starts with Camp's basic explanation why many parts of "the law" in the USA have fundamentally changed since Reagan and Lewis F. Powell Jr. started coordinating the interests and investments of the very rich in the interests of the very rich:

The parasitic rich are now above the law, and those trying to fix the system are sentenced to years in jail. This is the moral collapse of our culture and our criminal justice system. When sociopathic rulers are this powerful, they use the courts —traditionally used to stop pillaging—to continue their takeover of land and extraction of resources. They have captured the fail-safe mechanisms meant to defend against exactly this type of moral inversion.

Chris Hedges explained in February: “Oligarchs cynically view laws as mechanisms to legalize their fraud and plunder.” They also use the captured courts to arrest those who try to stop them. 

I think Camp's argument - "[t]he parasitic rich are now above the law" and "[t]his is the moral collapse of our culture and our criminal justice system" - is basically correct. In case you object
that there also is much of "the law" that is still mostly respected by most citizens of the USA, I both agree and disagree:

You are right talking about
"the law" in the abstract, but wrong in the sense that since Lewis F. Powell Jr. called on the (very) rich to defend and extend their very own interests, very much has happened in the USA to extend the interests of the very rich by the very rich.

And I agree with the morals or ethics of Camp: To work for the interests of the rich and the very rich, and against the interests of the non-rich and the poor, which has been happening on a governmental and legal level since Reagan became president of the USA is immoral, unethical and fundamentally wrong.

This is a strongly recommended article.

2. The U.S. Government Is Finally Scrambling to Regulate Facebook

This article is by David Dayan on The Intercept. It starts as follows:
Washington and Big Tech are scrambling to keep up after revelations that the voter profiling firm Cambridge Analytica harvested data from 50 million Facebook users. The scandal has accelerated regulatory and oversight efforts and left top Democrats reconsidering the party’s traditional closeness to Silicon Valley.
Yes indeed. Then again, you should keep in mind the argument of the previous item: The very rich have been redesigning the American laws in their own - exclusive - interests ever since Powell and Reagan, and have mostly succeeded in getting their exclusive rich interests satisfied, namely by buying the lawgivers.

Here is more:
The FTC could impose sanctions on tech platforms like Facebook, enforce data privacy controls, challenge acquisition deals, and even break up companies if it finds anti-competitive conduct. A reinvigorated agency, in sum, represents a legitimate threat to Big Tech. And congressional attention to the issue creates new pressure on the FTC to act.
Yes, they "could". Here is some more on whether Facebook will:

In addition to at least eight user lawsuits, 37 state attorneys general from both parties also demanded answers about Facebook’s policies on user privacy, in a letter to the company on Tuesday.

Elsewhere, three separate congressional committees have requested that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testify on data privacy, and Zuckerberg has reportedly agreed to go before Congress in some capacity, though Facebook has made no announcement yet. So far, the company has only given private briefings to Congress through mid-level staff on the Cambridge Analytica matter.  Earlier this week, Zuckerberg stiffed a UK parliamentary committee seeking his testimony on the  situation.

I can well imagine Zuckerberg's saying (in private): "The Brits? The Brits?! I got more than 2 billion members about whom I secretly know everything: You won't say these merely 60 millions will make any fucking difference to ME?!" but I admit that while I think he really thinks so (while pretending in public to be o so very afflicted) I do not know he said so.

And wholly apart from Zuckerberg, there is the very close affiliation between "the Democrats" and "the mega rich who control the tech community":

Democrats have long-standing and numerous ties to the tech community. Former President Barack Obama was famously close to Google, with hundreds of staffers moving back and forth between executive branch jobs and the search engine giant. Last year, former Obama counselor Valerie Jarrett joined the board of Lyft, and just this week former national security adviser Susan Rice joined the board of Netflix.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s husband Paul holds $1.5 million in stock in Apple and at least half a million dollars in Facebook. Alison Schumer, Chuck Schumer’s daughter, works at Facebook as a “Privacy and Politics Product Marketing” manager, promoting projects related to getting people to vote and contact elected officials. Democrats receive the lion’s share of campaign contributions from Silicon Valley.

Precisely (and see the previous article for an obvious and probable moral). In any case, this is from the ending of the present article:

As Facebook ramps up its PR campaign, it’s doubtful that there will be immediate consequences for the company outside of a grilling in hearings; it’s likely to take time for anything close to a wholesale restructuring of the social media sector.

In fact, I do not believe in "a wholesale restructuring of the social media sector", simply because (i) they are extremely rich (which allows them to buy most who decide), and (ii) Google, Facebook, Apple and Microsoft (all owned by extremely rich people) already collaborate very much with the NSA and other spies.

But we will soon find out, and meanwhile this is a recommended article.

3. Is Trump The Worst President In American History?

This article is by Robert Reich on his site. It starts as follows:
America has had its share of crooks (Warren G. Harding, Richard Nixon), bigots (Andrew Jackson, James Buchanan), and incompetents (Andrew Johnson, George W. Bush). But never before Donald Trump have we had a president who combined all these nefarious qualities.
Probably so (and my small skepticism is due to the fact that I do not know much about American presidents before 1900).

Here is more:

A president’s most fundamental legal and moral responsibility is to uphold and protect our system of government. Donald Trump has degraded that system.

When he threatens to loosen federal libel laws so he can sue news organizations that are critical of him and revoke licenses of networks critical of him, he isn’t just bullying the media. He’s threatening the constitutionally guaranteed freedom and integrity of the press.

This is completely correct. Here is more:

When he equated Neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klan members with counter- demonstrators in Charlottesville, Virginia, by blaming “both sides” for the violence, he wasn’t being neutral. He was condoning white supremacists, thereby undermining the constitution’s guarantee of equal rights.

When he pardoned Joe Arpaio, the former sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, for a criminal contempt conviction, he wasn’t just signaling it’s okay for the police to engage in violations of civil rights. He was also subverting the rule of law by impairing the judiciary’s power to force public officials to abide by court decisions.

When he criticized NFL players for kneeling during the national anthem, he wasn’t just demanding they demonstrate their patriotism. He was disrespecting their – and, indirectly, everyone’s – freedom of speech.

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

When he boasts that he made up information in a meeting with the prime minister of Canada, he isn’t just undermining his own credibility. He’s undermining the credibility of the united states in the eyes of the world. 

Donald Trump is degrading the core institutions and values of our democracy.

Yes, I fully agree with this and this is a strongly recommended article - but I do still think what I concluded in 2016:

Part of the explanation for Trump is his ideology, which simply is neofascistic, (check the definition!!!), whatever his lack of reading, and another part is that I believe - with (it seems) 70,000 other psychologists and psychiatrists - that Trump is not sane: He is a megalomaniac, and that is extremely dangerous for everyone on earth.

4. Stopping War Pusher John Bolton, Trump’s Choice for National
“Insecurity” Advisor

This article is by Ralph Nader on Common Dreams and originally on his site. It starts as follows:

John Bolton’s career of pushing for bombing countries like Iran and North Korea, and his having played an active role in the Bush/Cheney regime’s criminal war of aggression that destroyed Iraq, makes him a clear and present danger to our country and world peace. He is about to become Donald Trump’s personal national security advisor with a staff of 400 right next to the White House. He must be stopped!

For Bolton, the Constitution, federal law, the Geneva Conventions, and other international laws are pieces of paper to be thrown away with unctuous contempt.  This outlaw – the shame of Yale Law School—should have been cast away as a pariah if not prosecuted and imprisoned. A bully to his subordinates in the government and known as “kiss-ass” to his superiors, Bolton is aggressive, relentless, and consistently wrong, when not prevaricatory.

Yes indeed - and you also can find most of the facts about this probably sick degenerate on the internet.

Here is more:

There is a remarkable liberal/conservative dislike and fright about Bolton having Trump’s ear daily. Especially since Trump is susceptible to adopting the positions of the last person who reaches him. The added danger is that Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis has privately told people that he, like many who have experienced Bolton in government, cannot work with him.

I did not know that fact about Mattis, but I do believe it. Here is more:

There are many vigorous critics of Bolton’s career and subsequent belligerent stances ; Just last month Bolton wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal demanding the bombing of North Korea. His juvenile, lethal positions avoid considering the consequences, responses, backlash and danger to our country’s own safety. He likes to bet on the world—a Dr. Strangelove on steroids.

Yes, as I like Nader's description of Bolton: "a Dr. Strangelove on steroids". Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:

The other obstacles to Bolton’s assuming his position is that it will take the FBI many weeks to decide whether he can receive a top security clearance. At age 69, Bolton has a long trail of entanglements and intrigues in and out of government, not to mention his tantrums—some involving female public servants.

I say: Bolton seems to be a sadist as well. I can't say I am amazed, and this is a strongly recommended article.

5. For Bolton, the Slaughter of 1 Million Iraqis Is a Job Qualification

This article is by Dahr Jamail on Truthout. It starts as follows:

The illegal 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq has, thus far, left approximately 1 million Iraqis dead. That is roughly 5 percent of the total population of that country.

If a foreign military superpower invaded and occupied the US and annihilated 5 percent of the total population here, that would be 16,300,000 dead US citizens.

President Donald Trump's incoming national security adviser, John Bolton, still thinks the mass destruction of Iraq was a good idea.

In fact, I have read various estimates about the number of killed Iraqis, and perhaps 1 million is too low. But supppose it is basically (more or less) correct:

Then, 12 years later, with 5 percent of the total population of Iraq dead, thousands of US troops dead and trillions of dollars of taxpayer funds bled away, he told the Washington Examiner that he still thought the Iraq War was worth it. He even commented that "the worst decision made after that was the 2011 decision to withdraw US and coalition forces."

Well... that is the kind of man John Bolton is.

Here is more, this time about Dahr Jamail - and I find it quite interesting (and admirable) that he "was one of the few unembedded journalists to report extensively from Iraq during the 2003 Iraq invasion":

I witnessed the carnage firsthand in Iraq. I saw the destruction of an entire country. I watched women, children and the elderly slaughtered in Fallujah by the US military. I walked through freezers full of decayed bodies that were the detritus of Bolton's US empire project.

The fact that this individual is about to become national security adviser feels like a true nightmare about to revisit us.

I fully agree (and do not have Jamail's horrific experiences in Iraq). Here is the last bit that quote from this article:

Now, he has already openly argued for attacking North Korea, and has spoken out publicly against diplomatic efforts, including the upcoming talks in May between Trump and Kim Jong Un.

Similarly, Bolton has repeatedly called for bombing Iran. He has a record of favoring unilateral solutions to delicate issues such as these -- "solutions" that would almost guarantee the loss of another million lives, for starters.

Again I fully agree, although I fear Bolton will be nominated. And this is a strongly recommended article.


[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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