October 5, 2018

Crisis: Do NOT Confirm Kavanaugh, Trump´s Tax Evasions, On The FBI, Male Privilege, Advertising


1. Summary
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from October 5, 2018

This is a Nederlog of Friday, October 5, 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 October 5, 2018:
1. The Senate Should Not Confirm Kavanaugh
2. Bombshell Report Exposes Decades of Trump Tax Evasion
3. Critics Blast FBI's Kavanaugh Investigation as Utter Farce
4. This Is How White Male Privilege Is Destroying America
5. The Root of the Internet’s Disrepute: Online Advertising!
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. The Senate Should Not Confirm Kavanaugh

This article is in fact a letter, said to be presented to the U.S. Senate yesterday (October 4), that is signed by 2400+ law professors, whose reaction to Brett Kavanaugh´s testimony - which you can see here: Brett Kavanaugh: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO) (quite interesting and strongly recommended) - is rather like mine.

The letter starts as follows:

Judicial temperament is one of the most important qualities of a judge. As the Congressional Research Service explains, a judge requires “a personality that is even-handed, unbiased, impartial, courteous yet firm, and dedicated to a process, not a result.” The concern for judicial temperament dates back to our founding; in Federalist 78, titled “Judges as Guardians of the Constitution,” Alexander Hamilton expressed the need for “the integrity and moderation of the judiciary.”

We are law professors who teach, research and write about the judicial institutions of this country. Many of us appear in state and federal court, and our work means that we will continue to do so, including before the United States Supreme Court. We regret that we feel compelled to write to you, our Senators, to provide our views that at the Senate hearings on Sept. 27, Judge Brett Kavanaugh displayed a lack of judicial temperament that would be disqualifying for any court, and certainly for elevation to the highest court of this land.


And yes, I think the law professors are also right in saying (bolding added) that ¨
Judge Brett Kavanaugh displayed a lack of judicial temperament that would be disqualifying for any court¨.

Here is more:
Judge Kavanaugh exhibited a lack of commitment to judicious inquiry. Instead of being open to the necessary search for accuracy, Judge Kavanaugh was repeatedly aggressive with questioners. Even in his prepared remarks, Judge Kavanaugh described the hearing as partisan, referring to it as “a calculated and orchestrated political hit,” rather than acknowledging the need for the Senate, faced with new information, to try to understand what had transpired. Instead of trying to sort out with reason and care the allegations that were raised, Judge Kavanaugh responded in an intemperate, inflammatory and partial manner, as he interrupted and, at times, was discourteous to senators.

Here is the last bit I quote:

As you know, under two statutes governing bias and recusal, judges must step aside if they are at risk of being perceived as or of being unfair. As Congress has previously put it, a judge or justice “shall disqualify himself in any proceeding in which his impartiality might reasonably be questioned.” These statutes are part of a myriad of legal commitments to the impartiality of the judiciary, which is the cornerstone of the courts.

We have differing views about the other qualifications of Judge Kavanaugh. But we are united, as professors of law and scholars of judicial institutions, in believing that he did not display the impartiality and judicial temperament requisite to sit on the highest court of our land.

And in fact this letter was signed by no less than 2400+ law professors, while yesterday the signatures stood at 650+, as you can see here. This is a strongly recommended article.

2. Bombshell Report Exposes Decades of Trump Tax Evasion

This article is by Julia Conley on Truthdig and originally on Common Dreams. This starts as follows:

Undermining the narrative President Donald Trump has aggressively promoted of his success as a “self-made” billionaire—the platform upon which he has built his success as a business mogul as well as his campaign for president in 2016—the New York Times released an explosive in-depth report on Tuesday detailing schemes which allowed Trump to avoid paying taxes on wealth that was transferred from his parents to himself and his siblings.

The “dubious tax schemes” Trump helped coordinate include cases of “outright fraud,” according to the Times.

Trump has for years been fond of telling audiences that through hard work and financial know-how he was able to transform a single $1 million loan from his father, Fred Trump, into a $10 billion fortune—a tale that made him a popular figure with those who voted for him in 2016.

Yes indeed - that is, I affirm the last of the above paragraphs, whereas the two first paragraphs were unknown to me.

Well, here is how it worked in fact, according to the Times:

But the Times reveals that based on 100,000 pages of financial records—including 200 pages of Fred Trump’s tax returns and those of the Trump empire’s partnerships—and interviews with Fred Trump’s former associates, Trump has received the equivalent of $413 million in 2018 dollars from his father’s real estate empire—starting “when he was a toddler and continuing to this day.”

So Trump was lying on a very large scale: $413 million v. $1 million. But that was not all: Trump´s parents also transferred over $1 billion to their five children - but paid just $52.2 million instead of $550 million, as per the American tax laws, netting them no less than $497 million:
Trump’s parents transferred over $1 billion in wealth to their five children—a sum which should have left the family with a $550 million tax bill. But the Trumps paid just $52.2 million, or about 5 percent, rather than 55 percent under the tax code at the time.
I say. This is a strongly recommended article, that very probably soon will be followed up.
3. Critics Blast FBI's Kavanaugh Investigation as Utter Farce

This article is by Jon Queally on Truthdig and Common Dreams. It starts as follows:

Calling into question the entire probe, lawyers for Dr. Christine Blasey Ford issued a statement late Wednesday confirming their client, who herself offered credible testimony about Kavanaugh assaulting her while in high school, was never contacted or interviewed by the FBI nor were numerous witnesses they might have corroborated her claims.

“An FBI supplemental background investigation that did not include an interview of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford — nor the witnesses who corroborate her testimony — cannot be called an investigation,” said the statement. “We are profoundly disappointed that after the tremendous sacrifice she made in coming forward, those directing the FBI investigation were not interested in seeking the truth.”

I completely agree, although I am not much amazed. Also, I desire to say that quite recently James Comey, who was dismissed as the Director of the FBI by Trump in May of this year, testified that, in his opinion the FBI was quite capable of conducting the investigation into Kavanaugh.

Well... not if the FBI omits from its investigation anyone who might testify against Kavanaugh, like Dr. Ford herself, the witnesses who corroborate her testimony, and also cases like this:

While Kavanaugh’s freshman-year roommate James Roach came forth Wednesday night, both in an op-ed in Slate and with an interview on CNN, to say unequivocally that Kavanaugh lied to the Senate Judiciary Committee while under oath, he says the FBI refused to interview him.

I can only explain the FBI´s ¨investigation¨ of Kavanaugh as a quasi-investigation, that was designed NOT to interview anyone whose testimony might damage Kavanaugh.

Finally, here is Sen. Patrick Leahy:

Amid all this, Sen. Patrick Leahy, the longest-serving member from either party on the committee, issued an epic mega-thread on Wednesday evening that lays out all the ways in which Kavanaugh has a serious and documented “veracity problem” that cannot simply be swept under the rug.

“I’ve pulled it all together and summarized it here,” announced Leahy. “With so much at stake in this lifetime appointment, the American people, and the Senate, need to know.”

After laying out his case in great detail, Leahy concluded:

BOTTOM LINE: It’s not just “Bart O’Kavanaugh,” or minimizing his contemporaneous drinking or misogyny in his yearbook. On issues big and small, anytime Judge Kavanaugh is faced with an incriminating or difficult question under oath, he cannot be trusted to tell the truth.

— Sen. Patrick Leahy
He is quite right. Then again, I fear that 51 Republican senators rather nominate a drunk very ill-behaved rapist to the Supreme Court than properly investigate him. And this is a strongly recommended article.

4. This Is How White Male Privilege Is Destroying America

This article is by Chauncey DeVega on AlterNet and originally on Salon. It starts as follows:

In a sociology textbook yet to be written there will be a chapter on white male privilege. The spectacle of Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Court nomination will be one of that textbook's primary case studies.

There are numerous credible allegations against Kavanaugh, and multiple witnesses who confirm that Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee and his friends participated in a culture of sexual violence, debauchery, drunkenness and violence while they were students at Georgetown Preparatory School and then at Yale University.

During his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Kavanaugh repeatedly lied about a range of topics including his drinking, personal relationships and other behavior. It has also been reported by NBC that Kavanaugh also lied about his knowledge of the sexual assault allegations made against him by Deborah Ramirez.

Kavanaugh also claimed that he was admitted into Yale University by "busting his tail" and that he had no "special connections." This is nowhere near true. Kavanaugh was a legacy admission; his grandfather attended Yale.

Moreover, during his Senate testimony Kavanaugh displayed moments of fitful rage and anger.
Yes - to the best of my knowledge all of this is true. That was Kavanaugh, and here is Ford:

By comparison, Christine Blasey Ford was remarkably credible. She was calm and poised, even while being, quite literally, publicly interrogated by a sex crimes prosecutor hired by Republicans.

As Dr. Stacey Patton summarized on Twitter:

White male privilege is being able to cry during a job interview, interrupt the folks asking questions, yell at them, ask snarky questions, refuse to give straight answers, talk about how much you like to drink beer, and have other white men on the committee empathize with you.

Yes, quite so. And incidentally: As far as I recall this is the first of very many tweets that I have seen that does not repeat the name of the writer twice in the reports of the tweets. And indeed I rarely give tweets, and also tend to avoid articles that give more than two or three tweets, for I think tweets are an intentionally simplified abuse of language.

There also is quite a lot more in this article that I have skipped. This is a recommended article.

5. The Root of the Internet’s Disrepute: Online Advertising!

This article is by Ralph Nader on Common Dreams. This starts as follows:

In all the mounting media coverage of problems with the Internet, such as invasion of privacy, vulnerability to hacking, political manipulation, and user addiction, there is one constant: online advertising. Online advertising is the lifeblood of Google, Facebook, and many other Internet enterprises that profit by providing personal data to various vendors. Moreover, the move of tens of billions of dollars from conventional print and broadcast media continues, with devastating impacts, especially on print newspapers and magazines.

But does online advertising work for consumers? The Internet was once considered a less commercial medium. But today consumers are inundated with targeted ads, reviews, comments, friends’ reactions, and other digital data.  Unfortunately for advertisers, consumers are not intentionally clicking on online ads in big numbers.

I agree with most of this, but did not know yet that the advertised ¨consumers are not intentionally clicking on online ads in big numbers¨, although I admit it does not amaze me at all.

Then again, I think I should also add that since I am not on Facebook (and dislike touching it in any way), and do not use Google, I am - very happily - not ¨
inundated with targeted ads, reviews, comments, friends’ reactions¨ etc. etc.

Here is more from this article:
Some companies like Coca-Cola have cooled on using online advertising. But advertising revenues keep growing for Google, Facebook, and the other giants of the Internet. These companies are racing to innovate, connecting ads to more tailored audiences, which tantalize and keeps hope springing eternal for the advertisers. The Internet ad sellers also provide detailed data to advertise themselves to the advertisers staying one step ahead of growing skepticism. This is especially a problem when there is inadequate government regulation of deceptive advertising. It is the Wild West! Online advertising revenues are the Achilles’ heel of these big Internet companies. Any decline will deflate them immensely; more than public and Congressional criticism of their intrusiveness, their massive allowed fakeries, their broken promises to reform, and their openings to unsavory political and commercial users. If they lose advertising revenue, a major revenue bubble will burst and there goes their business model, along with their funding for ventures from video hosting to global mapping.
I suppose this is true, although I cannot verify all. Then again, ¨advertising revenue¨ is the main source of income of Facebook, Google etc. and if that radically falls, as it may very well if Nader is right that ¨consumers are not intentionally clicking on online ads in big numbers¨, then Facebook, Google etc. may be soon in serious trouble. (And I hope they will be, but do not know.)

The article ends as follows:

In a recent report titled “Digital Deceit,” authors Dipayan Ghosh and Ben Scott wrote:

The Central problem of disinformation corrupting American political culture is not Russian spies or a particular media platform. The central problem is that the entire industry is built to leverage sophisticated technology to aggregate user attention and sell advertising.

If so, why isn’t more public attention being paid to this root cause? Not by the mass media which is obviously too compromised by the Congress, by academia, or by more of US before “We the People” become the conditioned responders that Ivan Pavlov warned about so many years ago.

My answer to Nader´s question ¨why isn’t more public attention being paid to this root cause¨ is that this gets too close to the amounts of money Facebook, Google etc. make by stealing or deceitfully appropriating private information they should not see at all, but I have no direct evidence for this. 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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