September 27, 2018

Crisis: On Kavanaugh, Trump & Laughter + China, On Julian Assange, 9/11 Unmasked


1. Summary
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from September 27, 2018

This is a Nederlog of Thursday, September 27, 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 September 27, 2018:
1. Hit Pause on Brett Kavanaugh
2. World Laughs at Trump as He Boasts About Himself in U.N. Address
3. Trump Accuses China of Meddling in Upcoming Election
4. Being Julian Assange
5. 9/11 Unmasked: A Remarkable Review
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. Hit Pause on Brett Kavanaugh

This article is by The Editorial Board on The New York Times. It starts as follows:


With a third woman stepping forward with accusations that the Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh committed sexual assault as a young man, this destructive stampede of a confirmation, driven so far by partisan calculation, needs to yield at last to common sense: Let qualified investigators — the F.B.I. — do their job. Let them interview the many witnesses whose names are already in the public record, among them Judge Kavanaugh’s close high-school friend Mark Judge, then weigh the credibility of the various claims and write a report for the White House and the Senate Judiciary Committee.

To jam Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation through now, without seeking to dispel the darkening cloud over his head, would be to leave the public in doubt about his honesty and character — and to set an even lower standard for taking claims of sexual abuse seriously than the Senate did 27 years ago in considering the accusations against Clarence Thomas by Anita Hill.

Yes, I quite agree with this (and for more on Kavanaugh check the index).

Here is more, namely a third woman who complained about Kavanaugh:

To recap: On Wednesday morning, the bomb-throwing lawyer Michael Avenatti made public an affidavit from Julie Swetnick, a woman who grew up in the Washington suburbs and claims to have traveled the same 1980s social circuit as Judge Kavanaugh. Ms. Swetnick says that he drank excessively at many parties she attended; that he was verbally abusive and physically aggressive toward young women, fondling and grabbing them; and that he was part of a group of young men who would spike the punch at parties with alcohol or illicit drugs with an eye toward incapacitating the female attendees, including Ms. Swetnick herself, and then abusing them.

These are grotesque charges — and, like the previous ones, they leave oceans of room for speculation and doubt. This is precisely why the Senate needs to stop trying to ram through this nomination by some arbitrary deadline and arrange for a thorough and nonpartisan inquiry.

Well... yes and no. First the no: What bomb did Avenatti throw? And why are Swetnick's charges grotesque? Both terms seem either false or dishonest - and no: I do not say Avenatti is what he says he is, nor do I say Swetnick's claims are true; I do say these terms are not appropriate.

As to the yes: I agree more or less with the rest. Here is more:

In saner times, the Senate would have paused in its mad rush to confirm Judge Kavanaugh when the first credible allegations of sexual assault surfaced. As things stand, Chuck Grassley, the head of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has shrugged off these latest accusations and asserted that the show will go on without further inconvenience or delay.

This is dereliction of the Senate’s duty — and it is now up to senators who know better, who prize the dignity and duty of their chamber, to demonstrate that they are indeed something more than partisan tools.

This is not, as Republicans have claimed, a matter of demanding the destruction of a man’s career based on vague or unsubstantiated claims. It is a matter of treating such allegations with the proper gravity. There is no other way to protect the integrity of the nominating process — and of the nation’s highest court.

Yes, I agree: For the Senate, it seems best to start an FBI investigation into Kavanaugh's past, and this is a recommended article.
2. World Laughs at Trump as He Boasts About Himself in U.N. Address

This article is by Amy Goodman and Juan González on Democracy Now! It starts with the following introduction:
World leaders in the United Nations General Assembly burst out laughing when President Trump boasted about his accomplishments. Trump praised North Korea, attacked Germany and accused Iran of “sowing chaos, death and destruction,” drawing scorn from Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. “What’s amazing is not that this hall of seasoned professionals laughed at him, but that he doesn’t get more laughter in the United States. These cable news programs take him seriously. … He should be laughed off the screen everywhere,” says Juan Cole, historian and author of “Engaging the Muslim World.”
Well... I strongly dislike Trump, and I would like it if Trump were "laughed off the screen everywhere" but then again I know since almost three years that Trump is mostly not "laughed off the screen", especially not in the USA, and I think Juan Cole knows this at least as well as I do, and therefore I think Cole's opinion is more propaganda than fact. (And that it so happens that I mostly agree with Cole on this topic does not blind me for the fact that Cole is propagandizing.)

Here is some more - and this is quoted because of Bolton:

AMY GOODMAN: Just hours after Trump’s speech, National Security Adviser John Bolton issued a dire warning to Iran.

JOHN BOLTON: According to the mullahs in Tehran, we are the Great Satan, lord of the underworld, master of the raging inferno. So I might imagine they would take me seriously that I—when I assure them today that if you cross us, our allies or our partners, if you harm our citizens, if you continue to lie, cheat and deceive, yes, there will indeed be hell to pay. … The murderous regime and its supporters will face significant consequences if they do not change their behavior. Let my message today be very clear: We are watching, and we will come after you.

AMY GOODMAN: Today President Trump is set to chair a meeting of the U.N. Security Council on nuclear proliferation. To talk more about Trump’s comments at the United Nations, particularly on Iran, we go to Ann Arbor, Michigan, to speak with Juan Cole, professor of history at the University of Michigan.
I think Bolton is a sickening bully, who may well be psychologically disturbed, though not quite in the way Trump is.

And here is Cole himself:
JUAN COLE: Well, this was a hall full of world leaders that actually run administrations, and they’ve seen the chaos of the Trump administration for the past two years. And I think what’s amazing is not that this hall of seasoned professionals laughed at him, but that he doesn’t get more laughter in the United States. These cable news programs take him seriously. They’ve normalized him. He has told thousands of lies, and his rate of lying has increased enormously in recent months. And I think he should be laughed off the screen everywhere.
No, I don't believe this is realistic and I think Cole knows the reasons:

Yes, the cable news programs have "
normalized" Trump, and apart from this something like 50% of all Americans use Facebook as their main source of news and information, and besides there are more stupid and ignorant Americans than rational and reasonable ones.

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

JUAN COLE: Well, it shows the dangers of having somebody who’s, frankly, unbalanced as the president of the United States. I mean, he lies. He’s a pathological liar. Everything that comes out of his mouth is a lie. And to have somebody at the helm of the country who consistently tells these falsehoods is embarrassing.

It’s very obvious that the Iranians don’t want to meet with him and never have wanted to meet with him, because they had spent all of 2014 and 2015 negotiating this nuclear deal, and they finally had a breakthrough. They had international agreement. It’s a deal not with the United States, but with the U.N. Security Council plus the European Union, represented by Germany. And Trump violated that treaty. He withdrew from it and has put the United States on a war footing with Iran, to the extent that members of his administration are openly admitting that they are the Great Satan. We always took that as an insult. John Bolton seems to enjoy the epithet.

I think the above is correct, and this is a recommended article.
3. Trump Accuses China of Meddling in Upcoming Election

This article is by Zeke Miller and Jonathan Lemire on Truthdig and originally on The Associated Press. It starts as follows:
President Donald Trump on Wednesday accused China of attempting to interfere in the upcoming United States congressional elections, claiming the Chinese are motivated by opposition to his tough trade policy.

The Chinese said it wasn’t so.

Trump, speaking in front of world leaders while chairing the United Nations Security Council for the first time, made his accusation amid the ongoing special counsel investigation into Russia’s attempts to interfere in the 2016 U.S. election to help him and concerns that the November elections could also be vulnerable.

“Regrettably, we found that China has been attempting to interfere in our upcoming 2018 election,” Trump said “They do not want me or us to win because I am the first president ever to challenge China on trade.”

Asked later what evidence he had, he replied, “Plenty of evidence,” but he didn’t provide any.
Yes, indeed. There is more in the article, but meanwhile I know enough about the amazingly many Trumpian lies to qualify this as yet another Trumpian statement without any evidence.
This is a recommended article.

4. Being Julian Assange

This article is by Suzie Dawson on Consortium News. It has a subtitle:
As Julian Assange’s fate may soon be resolved, here’s an in-depth look at the history of WikiLeaks, the infiltration of activist communities and the strength & vulnerability of the world-changing publisher whose freedom is at stake, by Suzie Dawson.
Yes indeed - but then this article takes no less than 411 Kb, which is far too long to properly abstract, and also it contains very many tweets, which on my - very recent - Firefox do not display at all in more than half of the cases.

Then again, I did read most of the article, and I believe Suzie Dawson is a true supporter of Assange, but I will only abstract three bits from her very long article. Here is the first bit:

In 2016 an accused serial sexual predator ran for the US presidency against the notoriously corrupt wife of a previously impeached President – who is also an accused serial sexual predator. That these facts alone were insufficient to invalidate the entire race is testament to the audacity with which corrupt power operates in the West, and how conditioned the public is to consuming the warped byproducts of its naked machinations. Arguably the most contentious election in recent history, the accused serial sexual predator won. During the race, WikiLeaks Editor-in-Chief Julian Assange aptly described the two candidates as “cholera vs gonorrhoea.” Edward Snowden ran a Twitter poll asking his followers whether they would rather vote for a “calculating villain”, an “unthinking monster” or “literally anyone else”. 67% chose the latter. Yet those who didn’t want to be forced into a false choice between Clinton or Trump became the forgotten voices, the silent majority; largely excluded from the endless, vapid mainstream media debates about the outcome. Julian and Edward’s descriptors were flawless metaphors for the Presidential contestants; cartoon-like characters that when paired together and portrayed as a legitimate democratic choice, made a mockery of the entire concept of political representation.
I think this is mostly correct. Here is more:
Meanwhile, the media and the money-power that pull their strings ignore the blatantly obvious and work feverishly to emboss the proceedings with a veneer of credibility. In tandem, government-aligned big data and social media companies are employing ever more loathsome technologies to remodel human history in real time. This industrialised historical revisionism requires the excoriating of the public reputation of the virtuous, the sanitising of the compromised, and the constant manipulation of the living memory of both. These are the core tenets of manufacturing consent. They aren’t just lying to us; they are already preparing the lies they will tell our unborn great-grandchildren. It is some of those layers of contrived, mainstream bullshit that this article intends to peel back.
I more or less agree with this is as well. Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:
At the crux of the issue is a battle of authenticity versus falsehood, on a spectrum. With most of us sandwiched somewhere in between and WikiLeaks front and centre. Because WikiLeaks is the last available vestige of verifiable, unadulterated public truth. That is why they are hated by those who fear the revelations WikiLeaks facilitates and why WikiLeaks’ public reputation is desecrated every day. It is why their every pillar of support is systematically undermined and why Julian Assange is being ever so slowly murdered in front of our eyes. We, the people, are the last line of their defence. Part of protecting WikiLeaks – and ultimately ourselves – is to understand the relentless nature of the psyops employed against them; that the hardships inflicted upon them by the enemies of human progress are not just reputational or financial but physical; that for those waging this thankless war of truth on our behalf, this is a matter of life or death. And that is why we must push back. That is why we must tell the truth about them.
Again I more or less agree, though Wikileaks is not (bolding added) "the last available vestige of verifiable, unadulterated public truth". As I said, this is a recommended article, although I think it is very long, and many of the tweets are undisplayed on my very recent Firefox.

5. 9/11 Unmasked: A Remarkable Review

This article is by David Ray Griffin on The Off-Guardian. It starts as follows:
The book 9/11 Unmasked, which I wrote together with Elizabeth Woodworth, has received several excellent reviews. But the most remarkable of these was written by Philip Roddis, who in 2016 had written with vitriol (his term) about the idea that 9/11 was an “inside job.” He wrote: “9/11 Truthism is not only seriously crackers but reactionary too.” What is remarkable about Roddis’ 2018 review is the extent to which he reversed his previous position.
Yes, this seems true to me - and I grant that two additional reasons for me to review this article are that (1) I know about Griffin since 40 years, for he edited the first good edition of Alfred North Whitehead's "Process and Reality" (which is a very difficult but quite interesting book) and
(2) I am also one of the 9/11 Truthers, basically because I disbelieve the official explanation, and because I think that the case of the architects is a good one, and should have been answered.

Also, Griffin seems right about Roddis. Here is more:

Contempt for truthers had been expressed by many other critics. For example, British political writer George Monbiot said that the 9/11 truth movement consists of morons and “idiots” who believe in “magic.” Calling me the 9/11 movement’s “high priest,” Monbiot described my 9/11 writing as a “concatenation of ill-attested nonsense.”

Likewise, in an essay entitled “The 9/11 Conspiracy Nuts,” Alexander Cockburn used me to illustrate the “idiocy of the conspiracy nuts.” In a follow-up essay, Cockburn wrote: “The main engine of the 9/11 conspiracy cult is nothing [but] the death of any conception of evidence.” Because of their failure to understand the idea of evidence, truthers illustrate the “ascendancy of magic over common sense, let alone reason.”

I leave this mostly untreated, but I do like to say that Cockburn seems a bit idiotic to me: I definitely do know more about evidence (and statistics, and logic, and mathematics) as a philosopher than Cockburn (who died) did as a graduate of English.

Finally, there is this in the article - and this appears after a summary of Roddis new evidence that is too long to quote here, but that seems convincing:

Between 2016 and 2018, Philip Roddis underwent a remarkable transformation. Beginning with the conviction that 9/11 Truthism is “seriously crackers,” he ended up thinking that the book 9/11 Unmasked must be taken seriously and also that it provides a strong “prima facie case for throwing out NIST.”

This kind of reversal is one of the things that my co-author and I hoped would be produced by our book. We had long known that the evidence against the official account of 9/11 is convincing.

As I have said already, I agree with Griffin on his last statement, 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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