April 7, 2018

Crisis: Stopping Trump, Lula da Silva, Facebook & Twitter, Mueller's Path, Lunatic Bolton


1. Summary
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from April 7, 2018

This is a Nederlog of Saturday, April 7, 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 April 7, 2018
1. Will We Stop Trump Before It’s Too Late?
2. Defying Arrest Deadline, Brazil’s Ex-President Dares Police to Come Get
3. I Gave Up Twitter for Lent: You Won't Believe What Happened Next
4. Why Mueller’s Move on Trump Is the Beginning of the Endgame
5. Lunatic Loose in West Wing
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. Will We Stop Trump Before It’s Too Late?

This article is by Madeleine Albright on The New York Times. It starts as follows:

On April 28, 1945 — 73 years ago — Italians hung the corpse of their former dictator Benito Mussolini upside down next to a gas station in Milan. Two days later, Adolf Hitler committed suicide in his bunker beneath the streets of war-ravaged Berlin. Fascism, it appeared, was dead.

To guard against a recurrence, the survivors of war and the Holocaust joined forces to create the United Nations, forge global financial institutions and — through the Universal Declaration of Human Rights — strengthen the rule of law. In 1989, the Berlin Wall came down and the honor roll of elected governments swelled not only in Central Europe, but also Latin America, Africa and Asia. Almost everywhere, it seemed, dictators were out and democrats were in. Freedom was ascendant.

Today, we are in a new era, testing whether the democratic banner can remain aloft amid terrorism, sectarian conflicts, vulnerable borders, rogue social media and the cynical schemes of ambitious men. The answer is not self-evident. We may be encouraged that most people in most countries still want to live freely and in peace, but there is no ignoring the storm clouds that have gathered. In fact, fascism — and the tendencies that lead toward fascism — pose a more serious threat now than at any time since the end of World War II.

This - in case you don't know because you are too young - is THE Madeleine Albright who served as Secretary of State in Bill Clinton's second term as president of the USA. I do not like her nor do I like Bill Clinton, and the above is a bit of propaganda, but the facts she mentions are correct.

Also, I think she is correct (more than not) about fascism (and this last link is a decent definition, while there are - at least - some 20 more definitions, most of which are not good or are quite bad) - except that I think it is neofascism (and this last link is the only reasonable definition I could find of that concept on the internet) rather than fascism which threatens mankind in the 21st Century.

Next, after considerably more propaganda, she says this:

If freedom is to prevail over the many challenges to it, American leadership is urgently required. This was among the indelible lessons of the 20th century. But by what he has said, done and failed to do, Mr. Trump has steadily diminished America’s positive clout in global councils.

I am not an American and I think "American leadership" since Reagan became president - which includes both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama - was mostly bad, and also quite fraudulent in the sense that very many things that should have been said clearly by the various American governments - such as about the surveillance absolutely everyone now is under - were either not said at all, or were said in very partial, often quite propagandistic and geneally misleading ways.

Here is more by Albright - and with this criticism I mostly agree (without being more positive about her or Bill Clinton):

Instead of mobilizing international coalitions to take on world problems, he touts the doctrine of “every nation for itself” and has led America into isolated positions on trade, climate change and Middle East peace. Instead of engaging in creative diplomacy, he has insulted United States neighbors and allies, walked away from key international agreements, mocked multilateral organizations and stripped the State Department of its resources and role. Instead of standing up for the values of a free society, Mr. Trump, with his oft-vented scorn for democracy’s building blocks, has strengthened the hands of dictators. No longer need they fear United States criticism regarding human rights or civil liberties. On the contrary, they can and do point to Mr. Trump’s own words to justify their repressive actions.

At one time or another, Mr. Trump has attacked the judiciary, ridiculed the media, defended torture, condoned police brutality, urged supporters to rough up hecklers and — jokingly or not — equated mere policy disagreements with treason. He tried to undermine faith in America’s electoral process through a bogus advisory commission on voter integrity. He routinely vilifies federal law enforcement institutions. He libels immigrants and the countries from which they come. His words are so often at odds with the truth that they can appear ignorant, yet are in fact calculated to exacerbate religious, social and racial divisions. Overseas, rather than stand up to bullies, Mr. Trump appears to like bullies, and they are delighted to have him represent the American brand. If one were to draft a script chronicling fascism’s resurrection, the abdication of America’s moral leadership would make a credible first scene.

I think this is mostly correct, though I insist again that (i) all definitions of fascism I have seen - 24 so far - are less clear and usually far less correct as definitions than my definition, and apart from that (ii) I think it is neofascism that is the serious threat - and as I defined that, it differs little from fascism except that fascism is for and about an all-powerful state, whereas neofascism is for and about all-powerful corporations, and also is explicitly for profit.

Here is the last bit from Albright that I quote:

What is to be done? First, defend the truth. A free press, for example, is not the enemy of the American people; it is the protector of the American people. Second, we must reinforce the principle that no one, not even the president, is above the law. Third, we should each do our part to energize the democratic process by registering new voters, listening respectfully to those with whom we disagree, knocking on doors for favored candidates, and ignoring the cynical counsel: “There’s nothing to be done.”

I agree with this, though again I still don't like nor admire her. And this is a recommended article though this time mostly because of the person who wrote it rather than the content.

2. Defying Arrest Deadline, Brazil’s Ex-President Dares Police to Come Get Him

This article is by Shasta Darlington, Ernesto Londono and Manuela Andreoni on The New York Times. It starts as follows:
Former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of Brazil defied a Friday deadline to report to prison to begin serving a 12-year corruption sentence, daring authorities to haul him away from a union headquarters thronged by his supporters.

As the 5 p.m. deadline neared, Mr. da Silva’s supporters counted down the last five seconds. Then they began chanting: “There is no surrender!”

Mr. da Silva’s decision set the stage for a heated confrontation between the most loyal defenders of a polarizing, yet enormously popular politician, and law enforcement officials who regard his imprisonment as a defining moment in their yearslong effort to stamp out corruption in Brazil.

I selected this article mostly because it is very early Saturday morning for me, and there was - as yet - little to choose from.

Then again, this seems to be a more or less typical NYT article: It is correct on the direct facts about da Silva, but it is thoroughly (and intentionally) misleading about the

"law enforcement officials who regard his imprisonment as a defining moment in their yearslong effort to stamp out corruption in Brazil"

That is utter rot, for the current government (led by the extremely corrupt Temer) is corrupt (for which reason Temer cannot participate in the coming elections).

Here is some more:

Some Brazilians relished the imminent arrest of Mr. da Silva, seeing it as a measure of justice in a country where powerful politicians have stolen with impunity for years. But others seethed, saying that the 72-year-old former president, who is the front-runner in the presidential election set to take place in October, was about to become a political prisoner.

Mr. da Silva spent the day holed up at the metalworkers union headquarters in São Bernardo do Campo, a municipality just outside of São Paulo, surrounded by supporters. Though Mr. da Silva did not speak publicly on Friday, a series of posts on his Twitter account conveyed a message of defiance.

“They want to arrest me to silence my voice, but I will speak through you,” one said. Another read: “They want to leave me jailed in a cell so I can’t carry on, but I will move forward through your legs.”

I have no idea how this will end. More later, and hopefully more correct as well.

3. I Gave Up Twitter for Lent: You Won't Believe What Happened Next

This article is by Valerie Vande Panne on AlterNet. It starts as follows:

I gave up Twitter for Lent. For the last two Lents, actually: 2017 and 2018.

I spoke with some journalist friends before Ash Wednesday, and their response was overwhelmingly: “You can’t give up Twitter.”

Well, it turns out I can give up Twitter, because I did. Just like I dumped Facebook years ago.

People often ask how I hear about things, since I’m not on Facebook. My sense is they think Facebook is the only way to learn about parties or events, or organize protests, or stay connected to friends and family.

Well... let me put it this way:

How extremely stupid can people be? I mean: I am on the internet since 1996; I have used personal computers since 1979; I can program in six programming languages; and I have never had Facebook or Twitter or Instagram and I certainly also never want them, for they are stealing - to the best of my knowledge - all they can get from their users, to sell it again to rich corporations who want data for their advertisements.

And while I was not speaking about Valerie Vande Panne in the previous paragraph, I think it is both very misleading and also a kind of propaganda not to mention the fact that it seems as if Facebook has stored something like 600 MB of data on each of the more than 2 billion morons - I am sorry, but if you let your private data being stolen by Facebook it is because you are a moron, indeed quite irrespective of your IQ - it plunders. (Besides: Even Zuckerberg agrees you are morons, for he spoke of his members as "dumb fucks who trust me", and that is - so far - the only true thing he said the last 10 years that I read.)

Besides, what also worries me are the "journalist friends" who seem to be so extremely stupid that they cannot see life without - the extremely horrible - Twitter (which may owe much of its popularity by (i) printing everyone's name/alias TWICE under their extremely brief slogans and/or (ii) by not allowing its "writers" to write more than extremely small bits that make rational argumentation almost wholly impossible).

Anyway... back to the article:

But here’s what I know to be true: If it’s important, I learn about it in the real world. I get personal phone calls and text messages from people I know, to let me know about parties, protests, concerts, family events, etc. People text me pictures. They share with me—directly—what is happening in their lives.

Being off Facebook creates the ultimate filter, and if you think you can’t organize without it, you’re wrong.
Well, yes.... OF COURSE! Facebook is not your computer! And the whole world runs on without Facebook, just as everybody did have all these possibilities from 1995 onwards: Of course you can email, send pictures, write your site (if you are clever enough for html, to be sure) and do  and write and send everything you want to without any Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

Then there is this:

At first, giving up Facebook and Twitter was hard. The first week was almost excruciating. When it came to Twitter, I hadn’t realized how much I’d come to enjoy the constant stream of news, the random interactions, the little hits of dopamine with every retweet. All of a sudden, I had a lot more time on my hands. What to do on public transit? Waiting in a long line? When I needed a break from my own work?

In what began as a quest to stay current, last year I read a lot more news—just not what was coming through my Twitter feed. I spent more time on big mainstream news outlet websites. I listened to NPR and PRI. I read local newspapers from rural Michigan, Florida and Nevada.

I will never start Facebook or Twitter, but I agree I have a very high IQ (and I would definitely hate 99,9% of the bullshit people (re)send on these horribly stupid channels). Indeed maybe that is what makes Facebook and Twitter so attractive for so very many? (Having low IQs.)

It seems as if Valerie Vande Panne might have saved herself (and here many Facebook friends) from Facebook and Twitter (and on Facebook your "friends" are plundered again simply because they are your "friends"):

What I realized from these last two Lents has changed how I view media, and my hard-working colleagues in it. And it’s changed how I want to live my life: blissfully social media limited.

And I say again: OF COURSE! Facebook is not your computer! Twitter is not your computer! Instagram is not your computer! (But whether people with an IQ under 125 - the large majority - will ever pick up these elementary messages is doubtful.)

This is recommended mostly because the advice it gives - get rid of Facebook and Twitter!! - is correct, though I really think Vande Panne should also have said that one very important reason to get rid of them is because they spy on everyone, in ways that cannot be controlled by anyone other than Zuckerberg and a few of his minions.

4. Why Mueller’s Move on Trump Is the Beginning of the Endgame

This article is by Jefferson Morley on AlterNet. It starts as follows:

With the Washington Post’s revelation that President Trump is not the “target” of criminal investigation, special prosecutor Robert Mueller’s strategy for completing his probe is coming into view.  

Mueller has pinned down Trump with two grand juries, issuing a wide net of indictments on diverse charges that have kept the president off-balance. The sentencing of Alex van der Zwaan, a Dutch lawyer working for indicted Trump aide Rick Gates, underscored a message for the president: those who lie to investigators face swift consequences.

What has seemed like an interminable inquiry now looks like it will terminate in a one-two punch: an interview with Trump followed by a report on the question of obstruction of justice.

All of this may well happen before the 2018 midterm elections.

I say, which I mostly do because it may be that Morley is correct, but I do not know. Also, I think I should add that if Mueller does not treat the findings about Facebook and Cambridge Analytica and Stephen Bannon (Cambridge Analytica stole at least 50 million sets of data of mostly Americans and may have handed them to Stephen Bannon who was Trump's chief strategist during the presidential elections) than Mueller's investigation seems rotten to me.

But this is not mentioned by Morley. What he does mention is this:

With the president’s legal team in turmoil, Trump is already in peril. His attorney John Dowd, a heavy-hitter from Wall Street, resigned last month after Trump rejected his advice to refuse Mueller’s request for an interview.

As Mueller closes in, Trump is poorly equipped to fight back.

Possibly so, but I think much depends on the content of Mueller's findings (and whether he has investigated Cambridge Analytica + Stephen Bannon), and I have as yet no idea about these.

5. Lunatic Loose in West Wing

This article is by Ray McGovern on Common Dreams and originally on Consortiumnews. It starts as follows:

John Bolton’s March 22 appointment-by-tweet as President Donald Trump’s national security adviser has given “March Madness” a new and ominous meaning.  There is less than a week left to batten down the hatches before Bolton makes U.S. foreign policy worse that it already is.

During a recent interview with The Intercept’s Jeremy Scahill  (minutes 35 to 51) I mentioned that Bolton fits seamlessly into a group of take-no-prisoners zealots once widely known in Washington circles as “the crazies,” and now more commonly referred to as “neocons.”

Beginning in the 1970s, “the crazies” sobriquet was applied to Cold Warriors hell bent on bashing Russians, Chinese, Arabs — anyone who challenged U.S. “exceptionalism” (read hegemony).  More to the point, I told Scahill that President (and former CIA Director) George H. W. Bush was among those using the term freely, since it seemed so apt.
I did not read the interview yet (but it seems good) and indeed I also did now know that Bush Sr. did use the term “the crazies” for Bolton and others, but I do know about John Bolton and Ray McGovern and indeed McGovern was for many years among the top of the CIA.

McGovern also knows Bush Sr. well:

George H. W. Bush and I had a longstanding professional and, later, cordial relationship.  For many years after he stopped being president, we stayed in touch — mostly by letter.  This is the first time I have chosen to share any of our personal correspondence.  I do so not only because of the ominous importance of Bolton’s appointment, but also because I am virtually certain the elder Bush would want me to.

Scanned below is a note George H. W. Bush sent me eight weeks before his son, egged on by the same “crazies” his father knew well from earlier incarnations, launched an illegal and unnecessary war for regime change in Iraq — unleashing chaos in the Middle East.

Yes indeed, and you can find it yourself by clicking the above fifth title. Here is more about Bush Sr. and Ray McGovern:

The challenge we faced [in 2001-2 - MM] was how to get through to President George W. Bush.  It had become crystal clear that the only way to do that would be to do an end run around “the crazies” — the criminally insane advisers that his father knew so well — Vice President Dick Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, and Undersecretary of State John Bolton.

Here is more:

On January 11, 2003 I wrote a letter to the elder Bush asking him to speak “privately to your son George about the crazies advising him on Iraq,” adding “I am aghast at the cavalier way in which the [Richard] Perles of the Pentagon are promoting the use of nuclear weapons as an acceptable option against Iraq.”

My letter continued: “That such people have the President’s ear is downright scary.  I think he needs to know why you exercised such care to keep such folks at arms length.  (And, as you may know, they are exerting unrelenting pressure on CIA analysts to come up with the “right” answers.  You know how that goes!)”

There is considerably more in the article that I leave to your interests. It ends as follows, and shows that Jimmy Carter seems to feel about Bolton like Bush Sr. and like Ray McGovern do:

Just three days after Bolton’s appointment, the normally soft-spoken Jimmy Carter became plain-spoken/outspoken Jimmy Carter, telling USA Today that the selection of Bolton “is a disaster for our country.”  When asked what advice he would give Trump on North Korea, for example, Carter said his “first advice” would be to fire Bolton.
Sadly, “crazy” seems to have become the new normal in Washington, with warmongers and regime-changers like Bolton in charge, people who have not served a day in uniform and have no direct experience of war other than starting them.

Yes indeed, and this is a strongly recommended article.


[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 (!!).

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