June 11, 2018

Crisis: On Iran, Trump's Destructions, Trump's States, Golden Age of Spying, Constitutional Crisis


1. Summary
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from June 11, 2018

This is a Nederlog of Monday, June 11, 2018.

1. Summary

This is a crisis log but it is a bit different from how it was until 2013:

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.

2. Crisis Files

These are five crisis files that are mostly well worth reading:

A. Selections from June 11, 2018:
1. Scapegoating Iran 
2. Trump Tries to Destroy the West
3. Associated Press: Trump's Stats on Trade Are Wrong
4. 'We Live in a Golden Age of Surveillance'
5. The Constitutional Crisis is Now
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. Scapegoating Iran

This article is by Chris Hedges on Truthdig. It starts as follows:
Seventeen years of war in the Middle East and what do we have to show for it? Iraq after our 2003 invasion and occupation is no longer a unified country. Its once modern infrastructure is largely destroyed, and the nation has fractured into warring enclaves. We have lost the war in Afghanistan. The Taliban is resurgent and has a presence in over 70 percent of the country. Libya is a failed state. Yemen after three years of relentless airstrikes and a blockade is enduring one of the world’s worst humanitarian disasters. The 500 “moderate” rebels we funded and armed in Syria at a cost of $500 million are in retreat after instigating a lawless reign of terror. The military adventurism has cost a staggering $5.6 trillion as our infrastructure crumbles, austerity guts basic services and half the population of the United States lives at or near poverty levels. The endless wars in the Middle East are the biggest strategic blunder in American history and herald the death of the empire.
Yes indeed, although "the death of the empire" is still uncertain - by which I mean the following:

(1) I think I have - after 5 years of trying - given up (mostly) on changing the awful
that rule in most Western countries, but especially the USA, and I have given
       up (mostly)
because only a relatively small minority of people are moved by news
       about the corruptions
, while most pretend little or nothing is the matter, as long as they
     and their direct families survive (indeed rather like as it was in WW II in Holland).
(2) My own present expectations of any major changes in the West depend on either a major
       economical crisis
(which will come, unless we are blown up first) or a nuclear war (which
     we are very unlikely to survive.

Also, here is another related point:

(3) I agree with those who protest (especially in the non-mainstream media, and the
     Electronic Frontier Foundation and the ACLU), and I think the protesting must continue
     because human lives and human rights depend on them, but I don't think protesting-without
     -a-major-economical-crisis will change the system of corruptions under which we live now.

Back to Hedges and his article:
Someone has to be blamed for debacles that have resulted in hundreds of thousands of dead, including at least 200,000 civilians, and millions driven from their homes. Someone has to be blamed for the proliferation of radical jihadist groups throughout the Middle East, the continued worldwide terrorist attacks, the wholesale destruction of cities and towns under relentless airstrikes and the abject failure of U.S. and U.S.-backed forces to stanch the insurgencies. You can be sure it won’t be the generals, the politicians such as George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, the rabid neocons such as Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz and John Bolton who sold us the wars, the Central Intelligence Agency, the arms contractors who profit from perpetual war or the celebrity pundits on the airwaves and in newspapers who serve as cheerleaders for the mayhem.
Well... yes and no, of course: Clearly Hedges, my self, and quite a few of informed and intelligent others do blame those Hedges mentions in the above paragraph. But I agree the
majority does not
, and indeed the majority is normally stupid (half of everyone has an IQ under 100; almost everyone of them has a Facebook account) or ignorant, doesn't know any science or logic, is a conformist, and mostly thinks with the help of wishful thinking - and is proud to do so because many believe "everyone knows there is no truth".

Here is more on Trump and his advisers:
Trump’s unilateral decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal, although Iran was in compliance with the agreement, was the first salvo in this effort to divert attention from these failures to Iran. Bolton, the new national security adviser, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, along with Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, advocate the overthrow of the Iranian government, with Giuliani saying last month that Trump is “as committed to regime change as we [an inner circle of presidential advisers] are.”
Here is the last bit that I quote from this article, and it is by the Iranian ambassador to the United Nations, Gholamali Khoshroo, who has been quoted rather a lot in the present article:
“What are the results of American policies in the Middle East?” he asked. “All of the American allies in the region are in turmoil. Only Iran is secure and stable. Why is this the case? Why, during the last 40 years, has Iran been stable? Is it because Iran has no relationship with America? Why is there hostility between Iran and America? Can’t the Americans see that Iran’s stability is important for the region? We are surrounded by Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen. What good would come from destabilizing Iran? What would America get out of that?”
Well... to answer just the last two questions from the above list, in one remark:

"America" will not get anything out of destroying Iran, but that is also not the point; what is the point is that most of the few richest Americans, and some of the richest American corporations that are involved in making and selling weapons and planes etc. will get a whole lot richer.

That is all that matters - which I think I know because that is all that has mattered ever since 2001. And this is a strongly recommended article, in which there is a lot more than I quoted. 

2. Trump Tries to Destroy the West

This article is by David Leonhardt on The New York Times. It starts as follows:

The alliance between the United States and Western Europe has accomplished great things. It won two world wars in the first half of the 20th century. Then it expanded to include its former enemies and went on to win the Cold War, help spread democracy and build the highest living standards the world has ever known.

President Trump is trying to destroy that alliance.

Is that how he thinks about it? Who knows. It’s impossible to get inside his head and divine his strategic goals, if he even has long-term goals. But put it this way: If a president of the United States were to sketch out a secret, detailed plan to break up the Atlantic alliance, that plan would bear a striking resemblance to Trump’s behavior.

Well... no and yes. First the no:

I suppose Leonhardt (possibly) may (somehow) believe himself when saying - in particular - that the USA helped to "spread democracy". But I don't, that is not since Reagan became president of the USA in 1980, which did not further democracy, but the rule of the few rich, and I am referring with "the few rich" both to men and to corporations. (And the corporations in turn have poisoned democracy by buying almost every member of the Senate and the House.)

And next the yes:

I mostly agree it is very difficult or "impossible to get inside [Trump's] head and divine his [Trump's] strategic goals, if [Trump] even has long-term goals", although I also believe my reasons are different from Leonhardt's. For I think that Trump does have an ideology, which I term neofascism (look at my definition and compare this with Trump's actions), and I also think Trump is solidly and dangerously insane. (You may disagree, but I think it is extremely likely that I know a lot more about (neo)fascism and madness, e.g. as a psychologist.)

Here is some more:

He chose not to attend the full G-7 meeting, in Quebec, this past weekend. While he was there, he picked fights. By now, you’ve probably seen the photograph
released by the German government — of Trump sitting down, with eyebrows raised and crossed arms, while Germany’s Angela Merkel and other leaders stand around him, imploring. Shinzo Abe, Japan’s prime minister, wears a look of defeat.

No wonder. The meeting’s central disagreements were over tariffs that Trump has imposed for false reasons. He claims that he’s merely responding to other countries. But the average current tariff of the United States, Britain, Germany and France is identical, according to the World Bank: 1.6 percent. Japan’s is 1.4 percent, and Canada’s is 0.8 percent. Yes, every country has a few objectionable tariffs, but they’re small — and the United States is not a victim here.

Yes indeed. Then again, what does Trump care? He lies on and on and on and on, and most Americans either do not care or are sympatheric to the grossest liar who ever became president:

So Trump isn’t telling the truth about trade, much as he has lied about Barack Obama’s birthplace, his own position on the Iraq War, his inauguration crowd, voter fraud, the murder rate, Mexican immigrants, the Russia investigation, the Stormy Daniels hush money and several hundred other subjects. The tariffs aren’t a case of his identifying a real problem but describing it poorly. He is threatening the Atlantic alliance over a lie.

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

For American voters, it means understanding the real stakes of this year’s midterm elections. They are not merely a referendum on a tax cut, a health care plan or a president’s unorthodox style. They are a referendum on American ideals that are older than any of us.

I more or less agree, but I do not expect much of it (I'm sorry, but that is the fact), where it only because around 60% of all adult Americans vote in the presidential elections, and this is the case since decades (and also not easy to find on Wikipedia!). And this is a recommended article.

3. Associated Press: Trump's Stats on Trade Are Wrong

This article is by Calvin Woodward and Paul Wiseman on Truthdig and originally on The Associated Press. It starts as follows:
President Donald Trump is using some goosey numbers to rationalize his aggressive rhetoric on trade, disregarding strong points in U.S. competitiveness to paint a dark portrait of a world taking advantage of his country.

Conversely, he’s glossing over aspects of the economy that don’t support his faulty contention that it’s the best it’s ever been. The complexities of health care for veterans are also set aside as he hails a new era in the Department of Veterans Affairs’ system.

Well... Trump has been lying, lying, lying and lying, but it is true this article makes this clear.

Here is some more:

TRUMP: “Last year, they lost 800 — we as a nation, over the years — but the latest number is $817 billion on trade. That’s ridiculous and it’s unacceptable. And everybody was told that.” — news conference Saturday at the Group of Seven summit in Canada.

THE FACTS: Trump’s bottom-line number in his dispute with trading partners is wrong. The U.S. ran a trade deficit last year of $568.4 billion, says his administration’s Census Bureau and Bureau of Economic Analysis, not $817 billion.
He made a similar error in a tweet Thursday, saying “The EU trade surplus with the U.S. is $151 Billion.” It was $101 billion.

And here is some more:

TRUMP: “We have the strongest economy that we’ve ever had in the United States — in the history of the United States. We have the best unemployment numbers.” — news conference Saturday.

TRUMP: “Best Economy & Jobs EVER, and much more.” — tweet Monday referring to achievement in his first 500 days in office.

THE FACTS: May’s unemployment rate of 3.8 percent is not the best ever. And the economy has seen many periods of stronger growth.

And there is a lot more of the same pattern in the article, which is recommended. 

4. 'We Live in a Golden Age of Surveillance'

This article is by Robert Scheer on Truthdig. It starts as follows:

In this week’s episode of “Scheer Intelligence,” host and Truthdig Editor in Chief Robert Scheer talks with Nate Cardozo, the attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, on the struggle to protect free expression, privacy and innovation in a hyperconnected world.

Cardozo and Scheer discuss the history of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which was founded in Cambridge, Mass., in 1990, before the internet as we know it came to be. The attorney describes the EFF’s main aim as defending internet users’ rights, and in a world in which surveillance has become widespread — whether by private entities or government agencies — its work has become more important than ever.

“We’re being tracked quite willingly by the magic tablets in our pockets. And we’ve created a world where everything is recorded,” Cardozo tells the “Scheer Intelligence” host. “We’re living in a veritable panopticon.”

Yes indeed, although I seem to be one of the very, very few who is not "being tracked quite willingly by the magic tablets in [my] pockets": I absolutely refuse to have any of these neofascistic spying instruments that are run by some of the very worst men I know of.

Then again, I quite agree that my decisions make no difference whatsoever, and we now live in Western Europe and the USA under neofascism. Also - to make you feel even more optimistic - I think that because the neofascists - from all of the secret services (it seems) and from Facebook, from Google, from Apple, from Microsoft etc. -  know in principle everything anybody ever wrote on a computer, they will keep the power forever, until they are blown up by a very major economical collapse or else manage to blow up everyone in a nuclear war.

Here is more, and this is also the one bit I disagree with in this excellent article:

NC:  (...) There was no conception of whether or not the Fourth Amendment applied to computers, whether we had a reasonable expectation of privacy in our digital documents. You know, the Fourth Amendment talks about our papers and effects; it doesn’t talk about our .txt files or anything like that.

Oh, come on! This is utter nonsense to me, for the argument is just the same as saying that - for example - because I invented a new method to murder people, that it cannot be established whether I murdered anyone, because my method is new.

It is utter baloney. I know it is accepted, but it is accepted because it is a gross lie which made all applications of any law to computers a major problem: Computers are technology, and all technology is part and parcel of the social laws that have been accepted. (Indeed until it became possible to spy on everyone in everything, which has now been happening since 2001, and will continue unless it is destroyed.)

Here is more, and this is what it is about:

RS: And the real issue, of course, in constitutional protection, is restraining government, rather than restraining the private sector in these matters of the First, Fourth Amendment, what have you. And there was a lot of momentum for finding out, what do they do to us, and what do they know about us? And then we ran into this election, and with the loss of Hillary Clinton to Donald Trump, suddenly the whole energy shifted to sort of celebrating the FBI and the CIA, and really asking them to be more vigorous in their prosecutions. And a whole new Red Scare, without reds, against Russia and Putin, developed.
Well... some remarks:

(1) I think it is as sick and should be as illegal whether Mark Zuckerberg of Jim Bezos know
     everything (in principle) about anyone as that the NSA etc. do;
(2) I think at present the secret services and the richest corporations on internet -
     Facebook, Amazon, Google, Apple, Microsoft - know or can find out absolutely everything
on absolutely everyone;
(3) I think the present "
Red Scare, without reds, against Russia" is utterly insane - which also
     is a sign that the American majority has been and is being totally deceived by the few.

More below, e.g. here, on how the law is being respected in the USA:
NC:  (..) So in 2015, 100% of Americans’ call records were Hoovered up by the NSA, pun intended. In 2016, that number was down to only–and I use scare quotes around that–only something over 100 million telephone metadata, pieces of telephone metadata. In 2017, that number jumped right back up to well over 500 million pieces of metadata. So even though Congress ordered the quote, bulk, unquote telephone metadata program to end, it appears from a transparency report released last week by the office of the director of national intelligence, that the NSA has essentially picked up right where it left off.

RS: So basically, you’re saying that these secret agencies, the NSA, CIA, are unaccountable. We don’t know what they’re doing, it doesn’t matter what Congress says.
That is to say, the laws are completely disrespected (flaunted, destroyed, treated as utter shit) as soon as this serves the interests of the NSA, CIA etc. etc.

I think that is quite correct. Here is more:
RS: This is an Orwellian world. I’m sorry, it’s an overused image. But we’ve lost sight of it. We don’t even care anymore. That’s what I’m sort of getting at here.

NC: I think that’s unfortunately right. I think we’ve become numb to the overcollection and oversharing of our personal data. Cambridge Analytica was an interesting example, right, because Cambridge Analytica did exactly what Facebook told us they were doing. Facebook permitted–and to some extent still does; they’ve reined it in a little–but Facebook permitted developers on their platform to view not just the people who interact with those apps, but all of their friends’ private information. You know, if any one of your 1,000 Facebook friends clicks on FarmVille, FarmVille got all of your data as well, even if you never clicked on it. They advertised that fact. That was designed in. That’s the whole point of Facebook, is to collect all that kind of data.

Well... here are again some remarks:

(1) "We" do not live in an Orwellian world. "We" live in a super-super-Orwellian world where
     everyone is known by the secret services to an extent that goes far beyond anything
     people know about themselves: Everything they do with a computer (that is internet-
     connected, though even that is no longer true) is known to each and every secret
       service that is rich enough
(and gets shared with many other secret services).
(2) I don't think it is quite true that "
we’ve become numb to the overcollection and oversharing of
     our personal data
", and for two different reasons: First, the large majority of those using
     computers neither knows nor really cares: they know less about computer than their
     great-grandfathers knew about cars. And second, "personal data" should NOT be collected or
     shared: They should be secret. (But indeed they are not - and see Brzezinski, who seems to
     have arranged and planned a lot of this in the late 1960ies.)
(3) Cardozo is quite right about Facebook: If you are a member of Facebook you are yourself
     a spy for Facebook (and for anyone rich enough to share its data): You betray each and
     everyone of your "friends" on Facebook (and they you), for this is how Zuckerberg as
     arranged his schemes of theft.

Then there is this:

RS: This was the point made by another conservative that is often criticized by liberals and civil libertarians, Chief Justice Roberts. And in that decision, preventing the police from breaking into your cell phone, his argument was that the Fourth Amendment that you referenced before, the right of the individual to be secure in their homes and not be invaded by warrantless searches, or general searches, he argued there was more information on a cell phone than was ever in anyone’s home. And that if we didn’t extend the protections of the Fourth Amendment, it would have no meaning in the modern world. And I thought that was an amazingly important decision, coming from a conservative court. And yet we’ve lost that message. No one now seems to care, again, about the government’s ability to do what the King of England or the Czar of Russia or Joseph Stalin or Adolph Hitler could never do, which was invade the most intimate information–movement, reading habits, musical habits, and personal life of all of the citizens on an incredibly detailed scale.

First, I repeat this bit, indeed because it seems quite true: "No one now seems to care, again, about the government’s ability to do what the King of England or the Czar of Russia or Joseph Stalin or Adolph Hitler could never do, which was invade the most intimate information– movement, reading habits, musical habits, and personal life of all of the citizens on an incredibly detailed scale."

Second, I wholly agree, and my basic explanation is that by far the greatest number of people are too stupid, too ignorant, too egoistic, to conformistic, and too much thinking as they wish to know or to care.

Third, there also is another factor, which I formulate for the Dutch: At most 5% of the Dutch in WW II were in the resistance, which is one reason why over 100,000 Dutch Jews were murdered by the Nazis. I am one of the very few with a father and a grandfather who were convicted (by collaborating Dutch judges, none of whom was ever punished) for resisting the Nazis to concentration camp imprisonment.

But who cares in Holland? In fact, my own resistance background seems stronger than anyone I know in Holland, but apart from that: 19 out of 20 Dutch collaborated - to some extent, for various reasons - with the Nazis, and it seems the same or worse now (for nearly every Dutchman except myself has a cellphone, that betrays all of anyone's friends as a matter of course).

Here is more:

RS: (..) We’ve lost sight of the fact that the US government has pioneered this ability to monitor citizens, interfere in politics, you know, take the conversation of Angela Merkel or anyone else on their cell phone. And so give me some perspective on what our ability, our technological ability as far as spying, collecting data, analyzing it, compares to the rest of the world. And are we not providing a very dangerous model for China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, everyone else to follow?

NC: Well, the short answer is, if the National Security Agency wants something, they’re going to get it. And it essentially doesn’t matter where that something is, or what technological measures its owner has taken to protect it.

I think Scheer is quite right, and Cardozo doesn't really answer him, although he does answer Scheer's question about the capacities of the NSA: "if the National Security Agency wants something, they’re going to get it", from Angela Merkel's conversations to your pornography.

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

NC: Yeah. We live in a golden age of surveillance. It used to be that you and I could have a conversation, Bob, over the phone or by postcard or whatever, and if the cops wanted to go back in time and monitor that conversation that we had a month ago, they were out of luck. The phone call had ended, the postcards had been delivered. Now, all of that leaves a trace. You and I cannot have a conversation with each other without leaving a record of that conversation unless we do it in person in an open field and we leave our cell phones behind at home. We’re being tracked quite willingly by the magic tablets in our pockets. And we’ve created a world where everything is recorded. Not just this podcast, but you know, I have my iPhone with me; the fact that I’m sitting in a studio in San Francisco is known to at least AT&T and Apple, probably also to Google, probably also to my employer. The fact that you’re sitting in a studio at USC is known to your equivalents of all of those as well. The ISDN line connection that’s connecting these two studios is leaving a trace. And all of that data will be there, if not forever, at least for several months or years. And we live in an era where all of that is recorded. My car knows who my doctor is, my car knows where I work and where I spent the night, my car knows where I eat, my car knows who my therapist is, who I’m having an affair with, if I’m having an affair; my car knows where I worship. And that’s just my car, that’s not even to say my cell phone or my laptop. My cell phone and my laptop know way more about me than that. So yes, we’re living in a veritable panopticon.

That is, the present situation is that any two persons "cannot have a conversation with each other without leaving a record of that conversation unless we do it in person in an open field and we leave our cell phones behind at home".

I say we live in the beginnings of a FAR more frigthful neofascism than the fascism, the sadism, Iand the cruelty that moved Hitler, Stalin or Mao, and my reason is that everyone is known in all his opinions, values and actions to the secret services and the rich corporations.

It is an extremely frightful world (for everyone who doesn't have $ 100 million or more) and I am very glad I am 68 and not 18, for I may be dead before neofascism fully arrives, but not those of 18 (unless everyone is blown up).

5. The Constitutional Crisis is Now

This article is by Robert Reich on his site. It starts as follows:

I keep hearing that if Trump fires Mueller we’ll face a constitutional crisis.

Or if Mueller subpoenas Trump to testify and Trump defies the subpoena, it’s a constitutional crisis.

Or if Mueller comes up with substantial evidence that Trump is guilty of colluding with Russia or of obstructing justice but the House doesn’t move to impeach him, we’ll have a constitutional crisis.

I have news for you. We’re already in a constitutional crisis. For a year and a half the president of the United States has been carrying out a systemic attack on the institutions of our democracy.

Yes indeed - and also (but only for people who have been following the real news): of course. Here is some more:

The current crisis has been unfolding since the waning days of the 2016 campaign when Trump refused to say whether he’d be bound by the election results if Hillary won.

It continued through March 4, 2017 when Trump claimed, without evidence, that Obama had wiretapped his phones in the Trump Tower during the campaign.

It deepened in May 2017 when, by his own admission, Trump was thinking of “this Russia thing” when he decided to fire FBI Director James Comey (...)
Yes indeed again, but there is a whole lot more of which I am going to mention three things:

(1) All politicians lie, but Trump is the biggest political liar I have ever seen or heard. And part of
     the reason he does lie so very often is this:
(2) Trump is an insane madman with major megalomania, while also
(3) The whole political ideology of Trump is neofascism (as I defined it, while I did not find any
     other reasonably clear, reasonably well-defined definition of that term).

I have - once again - linked you to my evidence, and I leave it at that, here and now.

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

He claimed he has the absolute right to pardon himself and can thereby immunize himself from any outcome; and asserted he has the power under the Constitution to end the investigation whenever he wants.

The crux of America’s current constitutional crisis is this: Our system of government was designed to constrain power, but Trump doesn’t want to be constrained.

Our system was conceived as a means of promoting the public interest, but Trump wants to promote only his own interest.  

Our system was organized to bind presidents to the Constitution, but Trump doesn’t want to be bound by anything.  

The crisis will therefore worsen as long as Trump can get away with it. An unconstrained megalomaniac becomes only more maniacal.
Yes indeed: I completely agree. And since Reich is not a psychologist but I am, let me repeat the evidence that Trump is an insane madman with major megalomania.

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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