April 8, 2018

Crisis: Trump & Bolton, The Corporations, The Drug Dealers, The Democrats, On Facebook


1. Summary
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from April 8, 2018

This is a Nederlog of Sunday, April 8, 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 8, 2018
1. Intercepted Podcast: Donald Trump’s ’Stache Infection 
2. We Are the Corporate Sugar Daddies
3. If You Want to Kill Drug Dealers, Start With Big Pharma
4. Trump is Still the Most Unpopular President Since Polls Have Been Kept;
     But It May Not Matter in 2018 or 2020
5. Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg: If You Want Privacy, You're Going to Have
     to Pay for It
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. Intercepted Podcast: Donald Trump’s ’Stache Infection

This article is by Jeremy Scahill on The Intercept and needs a bit of explanation before I make some excerpts:

First, it is from March 28 last, and one reason I did not see it before is that it started as a podcast, while I - strongly - prefer to read rather than listen, because reading goes much faster.

Second, it consists of five interviews all of which I have read (and can recommend), but I will quote only from two interviews. (And all five are summarized at the beginning of the original.)

And third, I liked what I read a lot but will restrict myself to a few excerpts from the first interview and idem from the third interview in the list of five.

A. From ¨
Donald Trump’s ’Stache Infection¨

This is from the first interview:

JS: Donald Trump is once again shaking up his administration and the recent shuffles and new blood is an ominous sign that things actually can get worse — much worse. A veteran torturer and destroyer of evidence, Gina Haspel, has been nominated as CIA director. Mike Pompeo, who is a right-wing Christian supremacist is now slated to become the U.S.’s top diplomat at the State Department. And last, and perhaps most dangerous, is John Bolton as national security adviser. That post, national security adviser does not require Senate confirmation and that means that barring some unusual intervention from Congress, John Bolton is going to be the chief voice in Trump’s ear on foreign policy, national security, and war.

John Bolton: I think the retaliation should not be proportionate. I think it should be decidedly disproportionate.

JB: I continue to favor any steps that lead to the overthrow of the regime, and I think that should be official American policy.

Newscaster: That would be mean military action against Iran.

JB: Absolutely. Absolutely.

Martha MacCallum: You’ve written an op-ed today in the New York Times, and here’s the headline: “To Stop Iran’s Bomb, Bomb Iran.”

JB: I’m afraid, given the circumstances, that’s the only real option open to us now.

All I can say about Bolton is that I agree with Ray McGovern (see yesterday): A man who has these extraordinarily aggressive opinions is best described as a lunatic - but with this difference that this lunatic now has the ear of the president and extremely much power himself.

Here is Scahill on Bolton:

JS: John Bolton’s official job is to sift through all of the intelligence and recommendations made by the CIA, the NSA, military, other intelligence agencies and tell the president what he should do.

And we don’t have to play guessing games about what John Bolton wants the president to do. John Bolton wants war. He wants destruction, chaos, imperialism. John Bolton wants to conduct first-strike attacks against North Korea and Iran. He wants more, not fewer, nuclear weapons. He wants Israel’s agenda to supersede that of a majority of Americans’ agenda. He’s a supporter of the Iranian exile terrorist group, the MEK, and he speaks at their fundraisers and rallies.

John Bolton: There is only one answer here, to support legitimate opposition groups that favor overthrowing the military theocratic dictatorship in Tehran. It should be the declared policy of the United States of America and all of its friends to do just that at the earliest opportunity. Thank you very much.

And here is more Scahill:

JS: John Bolton is, in my analysis, the absolute most dangerous citizen of the United States to have as national security adviser at this moment in time. And I say that knowing that both Dick Cheney and Henry Kissinger are still technically alive.

I say this because Bolton is an extremist with a lust for blood and war. Now that’s also true of Cheney and Kissinger, but unlike those two, this is John Bolton’s one big chance — maybe ever and Bolton will be serving a president that makes decisions on a whim, sometimes based on what the weatherman and sportscaster say on Fox & Friends.

John Bolton’s presence in the White House as national security adviser should thrust the nuclear countdown clock to just before midnight.

I completely agree.

B. From ¨ Former CIA Officer Gives Analysis on John Bolton, Gina Haspel, the DNC Hack and Russia, and Talks About Neocons Under George H.W. Bush and Now Under Trump¨

First, there is this on Ray McGovern:
JS: [Ray McGovern] spent 27 years in the CIA where he specialized in the Soviet Union. McGovern was also the national security adviser for George H.W. Bush and often prepared or presented the president’s daily briefing. Ray McGovern also chaired the national intelligence estimates and, since leaving the CIA, Ray McGovern helped start Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity. In 2006, in protest of the CIA’s torture program, Ray McGovern returned his intelligence commendation medal.

McGovern has been a fierce critic of both the Trump administration and the U.S. intelligence community’s assertion that Vladimir Putin ordered the hacking of the DNC and other targets.

Quite so, and there is more on McGovern under the last link. Here is McGovern on Bolton (and ¨that invasion¨ is the invasion of Iraq):

RM: I say all that because John Bolton was one of the prime movers behind that invasion, [a] prime mover in destroying or so distorting the intelligence as to quote to “justify” such an invasion. And there he was, he was the undersecretary of state for arms control.

Now, the next thing we knew, under his influence, George W. Bush took the extreme step of saying, “This Antiballistic Missile Treaty” — which by the way everyone acknowledges was the bedrock for strategic stability since 1972 when it was signed — “we think we’re going to ditch that.”

President George W. Bush: Today, I have given formal notice to Russia, in accordance with the treaty, that the United States of America is withdrawing from this almost 30-year-old treaty. I have concluded the ABM Treaty hinders our government’s ability to develop ways to protect our people from future terrorists or rogue-state missile attacks.

RM: Now, that was a big, big deal that nobody really realized at the time, but now we realize it because Putin’s speech on the first of March indicates that all these new weapons systems, some of them pretty menacing, were developed as a direct result of the fact that the strategic stability that was introduced in ’72 — and I was in Moscow for the signing of that and felt very strongly about it — was simply eliminated by the fact that Bolton and George W. Bush and Cheney decided they didn’t need it anymore.

Note how utterly crazy Bush Jr.´s desire to ditch the Antiballistic Missile Treaty was - unless Bush Jr. was really heading for a major war with capitalist Russia, which again is an utterly crazy idea given that the socialist Soviet Union is totally dead since no less than 27 years.

Then again, there are some more players in the field of arms, arms control, and buying arms and there is John Bolton:

RM: Well, I see a lot of this stuff as a direct result of the danger that people who profiteer on arms control, both in the industrial sector and in government, are really wanting to make sure that Trump does not have this kind of flexibility. How better to do it, then putting the tried and true John Bolton to put a stop to any of this negotiating with Russia?

JS: Well, and Ray, of course, the national security adviser is a very powerful position, influential position, but it also is not subject to Senate confirmation. Explain what the role of the national security adviser is and the kinds of authority and power that Bolton will have.

RM: Well it’s really hard to draw direct comparisons between what went before and the Trump Administration. But what can be said is that it really all depends on the personal relationship between the national security assistant and the president.

Bolton will come in and his job really is to sort through what the departments, you know, what Defense, and State, and CIA are saying, and what they’re suggesting, and boil it down so the president can either read it or be briefed on it, and make a decision.

Incidentally, note McGovern´s ¨it’s really hard to draw direct comparisons between what went before and the Trump Administration¨, which I think is quite relevant because McGovern had for a long time a quite high position in the CIA.

And here is McGovern on hacking, including the Russians:

RM: Now, just so no one misunderstands: Do the Russians hack? Sure they act. Everybody hacks. The big point here is: Did the Russians hack into the Democratic National Committee computers and give that information to WikiLeaks? And the answer to that is: There is no proof of that.

As a matter of fact, there’s forensic evidence that some of our Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, to wit, [William] Bill Binney and Ed Loomis, both of whom were technical directors at NSA, they’ve poured over forensic evidence which indicates that the big event that people advertised with Guccifer and everyone else, was not a hack of any kind. The download speed indicates that it was an inside job, a download onto a thumb drive because the speed of the Internet could not handle the speed with which that data was downloaded. So, it was spurious, to begin with.

Did someone hack into that? No. The Russians? No. Nobody hacked into that. And we can prove it. The only problem is we can’t get into the public media.

I think all of that is correct, and there also is considerably more in the interview. And this is a strongly recommended article (in which there is very much more than I quoted).

2. We Are the Corporate Sugar Daddies

This article is by Eleanor Goldfield on Truthdig and originally on Art Killing Apathy. This starts as follows:
As tax day looms, most of us are grumbling and griping about the joyless task of shelling out hard-earned wages to the Empire. Regardless of political perspective, the people are overwhelmingly aware of the fact that whatever taxes they’re paying out, they’re not getting a lot back. In theory, I support taxation. The basic idea being that when people live in a community that requires upkeep and services, the people of that community should all pitch in to make sure those services are of good quality, readily available and reliable. We want good schools, public libraries, healthcare, road maintenance, etc. In other words, we want our family and our neighbor’s families to have what they need to not only survive but to thrive. The problem with our system is that unless your neighbor is one of the Forbes 400 or an F-35, your tax dollars aren’t going to support your neighbors. They’re going to support the people who need it the least: corporate CEOs and the richest in the country. It really is no wonder our public services are so anemic – hardly any of our money goes into them!
I think I quite agree, although it would have been pleasant to have some statistics. But here is some more:
According to a Good Jobs First report, from 2000 to 2017, the federal government alone awarded big business $72.3 billion in grants and allocated tax credits. When asked about these obscene tax breaks for big business, politicians and pundits argue that these companies need incentives in order to grow and hire more people – that the extra capital we throw at the capitalist elites will trickle down not only to the workers but to the communities that those workers live in.
And this is about Bezos and Amazon:
On a more national scale, since 2000 Amazon has received $1.115 billion in tax credits in 129 communities in the U.S. And get this: Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is worth roughly $100 billion. If you were to shave that down to $99.5 billion, nobody working at any Amazon facility in America would need assistance to eat. But why would Bezos offer that up?!
As stated, my conclusion - and I know a bit about the horrible conditions Bezos maintains for most of the people he employs - is that Bezos may very well be a sadistic neofascist, precisely because what Goldfield claims seems to be quite right: If Bezos limited his - extraordinary, quite sick - riches to $99.5 billion, the people he employs would NOT ¨need assistance to eat¨.

And my psychologist´s explanations why a man like Bezos does not want it that the people he employs do get enough to eat are that (i) he is a sadist or (ii) he thinks he is an Übermensch, that is, a Superman whose deserts and needs are much larger than that of ordinary persons.

Here is more on how things are done these days in Kentucky and Maryland:

report from late 2017 shows that Kentucky now spends more on corporate giveaways than on public pensions. In Baltimore, Maryland billions are shoved into the hands of corporate developers while schools and communities literally fall apart. In early January of this year, a GoFundMe was launched just so schools could turn the heat on. Some 60 schools across the city had heating issues. Meanwhile, corporations can warm themselves with the more than $3 billion in public money they’ve pulled from the city since the 1970s in the form of direct subsidies, tax write-offs, PILOTS or payments in lieu of taxes, and TIFs or tax increment financing.

The idea that turning kids into icicles is worth corporate development and jobs is as insufferable as Maryland winters.
Here is the ending of this article:
Between federal and state subsidies, government welfare and ecological fallout, we pay corporations two, sometimes three times over under the guise of boosting the economy. Predictably, however, the only things boosted are corporate profits, income inequality and ecological disaster. Companies like Amazon pit communities against each other and then watch the scuffle like a sadist watches malnourished dogs fight over poisoned scraps. We rip ourselves, our communities and our entire economy apart for the sake of sustaining an unsustainable system. We are the corporate sugar daddies – and until we stop subsidizing the biggest, dirtiest, shadiest and most evil corporations, we will continue to be screwed by them.
I think that is correct, although I also think that (the American) ¨we¨ cannot do so unless they can create much more influence/power over the people in the Senate and Congress, and over the kinds of laws that are proposed.

Unfortunately, I see little chance of that, at least now. And this is a recommended article.

3. If You Want to Kill Drug Dealers, Start With Big Pharma

This article is by Domenica Ghanem on AlterNet and originally on OtherWords. It starts as follows:

At a recent rally in New Hampshire, Donald Trump called for the death penalty for drug traffickers as part of a plan to combat the opioid epidemic in the United States. At a Pennsylvania rally a few weeks earlier, he called for the same.

Now his administration is taking steps toward making this proposal a reality. Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a memo on March 21 asking prosecutors to pursue capital punishment for drug traffickers — a power he has thanks to legislation passed under President Bill Clinton.

Yes indeed - but neither Trump nor Sessions were speaking about the filthiest dealers in hard drugs there now are in the USA, which are the pharmaceutical corporations plus many medical doctors these corporations bought.

Here is some about the set-up of selling hard drugs through corrupted medical doctors (and please note the number of lobbyists for every member of Congress and the enormous powers these pharmaceutical dealers of hard drugs now have):

The pharmaceutical industry spends more than any other industry on influencing politicians, with two lobbyists for every member of Congress. Nine out of ten House members and all but three senators have taken campaign contributions from Big Pharma.

It’s not just politicians they shell out for.

Opioid pioneer Purdue Pharma, the creator of OxyContin, bankrolled a campaign to change the prescription habits of doctors who were wary of the substance’s addictive properties, going so far as to send doctors on all-expense-paid trips to pain-management seminars. The family that started it all is worth some $13 billion today.

From 2008 to 2012, AmerisourceBergen distributed 118 million opioid pills to West Virginia alone. That’s about 65 pills per resident. In that same time frame, 1,728 people in the state suffered opioid overdoses.

McKesson — the fifth largest company in the U.S., with profits over $192 billion — contributed 5.8 million pills to just one West Virginia pharmacy.

Meanwhile, five companies contributed more than $9 million to interest groups for things like promoting their painkillers for chronic pain and lobbying to defeat state limits on prescribing opioids.

These companies don’t stop at promoting opioids. They also spend big on stopping legislation that would actually help curb opioid use.

Quite so, in my medically rather sophisticated opinion. Here is Ghanem´s conclusion:

But it’s clear who the real profiteers of the opioid epidemic are. If Trump wanted to get real about curbing incentives for selling opioids, he’d turn away from street dealers and target the real opioid-producing industry.

Yes indeed. I completely agree and this is a recommended article.

4. Trump is Still the Most Unpopular President Since Polls Have Been Kept; But It May Not Matter in 2018 or 2020

This article is by John Atcheson on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:

Trump recently bragged that his approval ratings were higher than “Cheatin Obama” at this point in his Presidency.  As it turns out, only Rasmussen – a right wing polling organization that has consistently put Trump’s approval ratings above those of other polling organizations – had Trump approaching a 50 percent approval.  The rest put him somewhere well below that, with two placing his rating below 40 percent. 

But to anyone who navigates through the world using facts, reason, and critical thinking skills, the real questions have to be, 1) just who the hell are the 40 percent or so who do approve of this idiot? 2) how does a guy with just 40 percent approval win the Presidency? 

And these questions are well worth asking, among other things because most of those who voted for Trump are not helped but hurt by many of Trump´s decisions (or those of Trump´s government):

Many of these acts of insanity directly harm the very folks who voted for Trump.  Throw in the Congressional Republicans’ intent to use the tax cut as a pretext for cutting Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and other programs benefitting the poor and middle class, and what you find is that the folks who support Trump and the Republicans are the very folks their policies are screwing the most. It almost boggles the mind.

So why do the victims of his policies support him?  Well, the answer to that is embedded in the second question, so let’s examine it.

Well... I must say that my mind is not (almost) boggled, but then I am a psychologist who has at least fifty years experience with the incredible brightness and the enormous leaps of understanding quite complicated things that the majority with an IQ of at most 100 is capable of ... that is: if you believe them, which I don´t.

But here is Atcheson:

How does a guy with a record of malice and incompetence win the Presidency and hold onto a 40 percent approval record?

The simple answer is, you can’t beat something with nothing.  Republicans have The Myth of the Magic Markets, and the Myth of the Bumbling Bureaucrat – two ideas they’ve spent the last four decades creating, nurturing and selling. The Democrats have … well, not much.  Just 37 percent of Americans believe that Democrats stand for anything at all.  

The Republican’s myths are: 1) that markets will provide all we want and need by pure serendipity if we just get government out of the way; and 2) government is the problem, not the solution.  Because these ideas are patently false, they’ve used fear, scapegoating, hatred and bigotry to distract, divide and deceive. The reality is, most people have gotten wise to the fact that their policies are basically designed to make the uber-rich, richer and corporations stronger at the expense of everyone else. 

Well... I agree mostly with what Atcheson says about The Myth of the Magic Markets and also about what I would rather have called The Myth of the Failing Government, but I do not believe these are the main factors in electing or maintaining major incompetents.

Here is the end of the article:

But the Democratic Party’s leaders are loath to do that on a national basis, and the pundits and prognosticators from the elite media still reinforce the notion that appealing to the center is the right strategy.  Here’s a news flash – there’s almost no one left in the center.  What we have are some 40 percent who are either ignorant, or so consumed with hate and blame – a by-product of the Republicans’ distraction tactics -- that Trump looks like a solution, and 60 percent who have no one speaking for them.  So many of voters stayed home, allowing the rabid 40 percenters to dominate elections.  Remember, Trump won with just 27 percent of the eligible voters backing him, and Clinton lost with just 28 percent backing her.  Forty five percent stayed home.

This is mostly quite correct, but my own interpretation is that at least 50% of the American electorate (whether they vote or not) has an IQ of maximally 100, which means that at least 50% of the electorate does fall for The Myth of the Magic Markets and The Myth of the Failing Government.

For me, two of the main factors in all democratic elections are the stupidity and/or the ignorance of large classes of the voters, but I am also willing to grant that this idea does not make one an optimist about democratic elections.
And this is a recommended article.

5. Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg: If You Want Privacy, You're Going to Have to Pay for It

This article is by Julia Conley on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:

Statements from Facebook's chief operating officer regarding concerns over the company's collection of users' data this week left some critics wondering why Facebook—already one of the richest tech companies in Silicon Valley—still appears intensely focused on accumulating vast profits even as its monetization methods have proven controversial.

Speaking with NBC News on Thursday, Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg said that if people want to use Facebook without seeing advertisements—targeted at the company's two billion users based on their personal data—they will have to pay.

Since I have been identified as ¨a filthy fascist¨ and ¨a terrorist, a terrorist, a terrorist¨ by the fascists, the sadists, and the terrorists of the ASVA (in the context of the ¨University¨ of Amsterdam) over forty years ago, and these terms were used for 12 years against me, and also were used to illegally deny me the M.A. in philosophy, while absolutely no one of the fascists, the sadists, and the terrorists of the ASVA made any excuses whatsoever to this son of a knighted communist who survived more than 3 years and 9 months as a ¨political terrorist¨ in German concentration camps; this grandson of a communist who was murdered by the Nazis after having been locked up as a ¨political terrorist¨; and also the son of a communist mother who was in the real resistance against the Nazis but who was never arrested by them, mu question must be:

How sadofascistic is Sheryl Sandberg - who is into stealing all privacies from over 2 billion users of Facebook and who is now insisting all the more than 2 billion users must accept being fed advertisements or else pay her in order not to see them?!

What a sick, degenerate totally immoral psychopath! Here is more on the sick and degenerate owners of Facebook:

The company's constant collection of data made it vulnerable to a data breach that affected at least 87 million of its two billion users—and likely more.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg will appear before a congressional committee next week to testify about the breach that made it possible for Cambridge Analytica, a firm that worked with President Donald Trump's 2016 campaign, to collect users' data through a third-party app without the users' knowledge.

Facebook knew about the data breach two years ago, Sandberg admitted, but has only begun to address security concerns recently, after a former Cambridge Analytica employee publicized the firm's actions.

For me, all of these are major crimes (involving at least 87 million of Facebook´s users). And here is the guy who classified his users as ¨dumb fucks who trust me¨:

Zuckerberg suggested in his reply that an ad-free Facebook is not possible, telling Kantrowitz, "People tell us that if they're going to see ads, they want the ads to be good. And the way to make the ads good, is by making it so that when someone tells us they have an interest...that the ads are actually tailored to what they care about."

My goodness! And this is a 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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