November 26, 2018

Crisis: Trump's Lies, Paramilitarized USA, Julian Assange, On Facebook, The Green New Deal


1. Summary
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from November 26, 2018

This is a Nederlog of Monday, November 26, 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 November 26, 2018:
1. The Top 10 Trump Lies and Why They Matter (With Daniel Dale)
2. How U.S. Politics Have Become Paramilitarized
3. What Happens If Julian Assange Is Tried in the US?
4. UK Seizes Thousands of 'Potentially Explosive' Documents Facebook
     Has Tried to Keep Secret

5. Why Democrats must embrace Ocasio-Cortez’s “Green New Deal”
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 Top 10 Trump Lies and Why They Matter (With Daniel Dale)

This article is by Mehdi Hasan on The Intercept. This article starts as follows:

Donald Trump lies. We know that. He lies in the morning, he lies in the afternoon, he lies in the evening and at night. He even gets up in the middle of the night to tweet, and that tweet almost always turns out to be a lie. A lie is produced each time his lips move. And this astonishing, serial, non-stop, 24/7, pathological lying is not just weird, pathetic, and immoral, it’s a danger to democracy. Because Trump, in classic autocrat fashion, wants us to just accept that the only truth we need worry our little heads about is the truth that comes straight from his mouth. Daniel Dale, the Toronto Star’s Washington correspondent, joins Mehdi Hasan to discuss Trump’s top ten lies and his totalitarian obsession with controlling what his supporters in particular define as true or false — and why this is all matters.

Yes indeed, this is more or less correct. In fact, I shall only deal with parts of this long article simply because it is too long to properly excerpt.

Also, since I am a psychologist I do want to add something to the above: I quite agree that Donald Trump is an "astonishing, serial (..) pathological liar", but I also have - together with thousands of psychologists and psychiatrists, a decent explanation for Trump's interminable lying: Trump is insane.

In fact, I reached that conclusion myself nearly three years ago, but then I am a psychologist. And I merely remark it here, because I have already spent a lot of attention to it in the past nearly three years.

Here is more from the article:

Daniel Dale: I think the U.S. media is heavily complicit in amplifying his lies in that way, in allowing him air-time to lie unfettered, and again to not treat the lying as an important story that needs to be told.
MH: (..) In fact, the President of the United States has lied almost every day since those elections. That probably doesn’t surprise you very much, but it should. After nearly two years of this routine, we’ve kind of lost our national capacity to be shocked by brazen presidential mendacity. 

Well, today on the show I want to try and help us get back that shock factor. Because the lying matters. It really does. My guest is the brilliant, the one and only Daniel Dale of the Toronto Star who literally monitors Trump’s lies for a living.

DD: Through 2017, it was 2.9 false claims per day. During the run-up to the midterms, during the month and a half leading up to it, it was 26 per day. 

MH: He and I are going to count down what we consider to be the most egregious, despicable, or just downright weird falsehoods that have ever left the Commander-in-Chief’s lips. Today on Deconstructed: Donald Trump’s top 10 lies and why they matter.

Yes indeed. In fact, I shall not report on the top ten lies, but they are all reported in the article.

Here is more (put together from various quotes bty various persons):

Zerlina Maxwell: Donald Trump is someone who lies constantly about little things and big things.

Trevor Noah: Trump lies about things we can see: the size of his crowds, the margin of his victory.

Steve Schmidt: Trump lied 6,000 times this year.

News Anchor: Trump lies once every three minutes, 15 seconds.

Stephen Colbert: On the plus side, you can use Trump’s lies to tell if your microwave popcorn is done.

Seth Meyers: Trump lied, got laughed at, and then lied about getting laughed at, and then Fox News lied about Trump’s lie about how we got laughed at for lying.

MH: Donald Trump lies. We know that. He lies in the morning. He lies in the afternoon. He lies in the evening and at night. He even gets up in the middle of the night to tweet, and that tweet almost always turns out to be a lie.

There’s an old line about politicians. How do you know if they’re lying? Their lips are moving. Well, that literally applies in the case of President Trump. His lips move, and a lie is produced. In fact, there has never been a president, a U.S. politician, I would argue, who is so utterly unwilling, incapable of, allergic to telling the truth.

He lies about things big and small. He lies about things in front of our eyes. He lies about people, places, policies, and this astonishing, serial, non-stop, 24/7, pathological lying is not just weird. It’s not just pathetic. It’s not just immoral. It’s a danger to democracy because Trump in classic autocrat fashion wants us to just accept that the only truth we need to worry our little heads about is the so-called truth that comes straight from his mouth. 

Yes indeed - but once again, while I quite agree that Trump's "pathological lying is not just weird. It’s not just pathetic. It’s not just immoral. It’s a danger to democracy" I once again insist that Trump's lying also is special not only because he lies so much and so obviously, but also because Trump is insane (and I do not know any other American president who was insane, although I know of quite a few bad ones).

Here is some more on the article and the interviewee:

MH: And so, today’s show is going to explore Trump’s lies, his war on truth, and why it matters so much. And I couldn’t possibly ask for a better guest to discuss all this then Daniel Dale, Washington DC bureau chief for the Toronto Star. Daniel’s become kind of famous as the journalist who not only fact checks in real time on Twitter everything Trump says live at his rallies or in his TV interviews, but he also keeps a running tally of all Donald Trump’s false claims since coming to office.

Yes indeed, and here is a bit by Daniel Dale:

DD: (..) At first, at the beginning of his presidency, you know, he was averaging for a while, through 2017, it was it was 2.9 false claims per day. And so, that’s 21 a week. That’s not a huge amount of time to fact-check. But now in 2018, he’s averaging nine per day. During the run-up to the midterms during the month and a half leading up to it, it was 26 per day.

I say (and yes, I trust Dale). Here is more:

DD: So as of Sunday November 11th, which is my last online update, it’s 3,749 false claims as President. Another update for last week, which has not been posted yet has at least another 50 more and we’ve had more even today. So, it’s above you know, it’s around 3,800.

MH: Okay, so 3,800 lies and false statements.
Precisely. And do you know of anyone who ever lied so much? I do not (and this is one of many reasons I think Trump is insane).

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

MH: There’s no objective reality. That is a very, very scary implication. How much is the U.S. media complicit in Trump’s serial dishonesty? Because until very recently, you had media organizations unwilling to even say the L-word. Now, a few of them are gingerly heading in that direction saying this is a lie. Anderson Cooper occasionally on CNN will say it. The New York Times would occasionally say it in a headline. But even now you see The New York Times, and ABC News, and others just putting up tweets with Trump’s falsehoods with no fact-check and just running it. Even now, even two years in.

Yes, quite so - which shows that "the media", and specifically the mainstream/corporatist media, are helping Trump to lie, and lie and lie. There is a whole lot more in this article, that is strongly recommended.

2. How U.S. Politics Have Become Paramilitarized

This article is by Jeremy Scahill on The Intercept. It starts as follows:

Donald Trump ran a campaign promising to refill the notorious Guantanamo Bay prison, to “bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding,” to “take out” the families of suspected terrorists, to ban Muslims from entering this country, and to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Yet these policies didn’t start with Trump: Torture, indefinite detention, extraordinary renditions, record numbers of deportations, anti-Muslim sentiment, mass foreign and domestic surveillance, and even the killing of innocent family members of suspected terrorists all have a recent historical precedent.

Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, continued some of the worst policies of the George W. Bush administration. He expanded the global battlefield post-9/11 into at least seven countries: Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Somalia, Pakistan, Yemen, and Syria. At the end of Obama’s second term, a report by Council of Foreign Relations found that in 2016, Obama dropped an average of 72 bombs a day. He used drone strikes as a liberal panacea for fighting those “terrorists” while keeping boots off the ground. But he also expanded the number of troops deployed in Afghanistan. Immigrants were deported in such record numbers under Obama that immigration activists called him the “deporter-in-chief.” And then there were the “Terror Tuesday” meetings, where Obama national security officials would order pizza and drink Coke and review the list of potential targets on their secret assassination list.

Precisely, and these also are some of the reasons why I detest Obama, although I grant that he is both intelligent and not insane at all.

Here is more on Bush Jr. and the Democrats who helped him:

Bush, before him, in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, took a hatchet to civil liberties: He expanded National Security Agency surveillance on overseas communications and created a system for unprecedented levels of surveilled communications of U.S. citizens. Much of this happened with the support of leading Democrats. Mosques across the country and in New York City were spied on. The authorization for the use of military force was passed in 2001 with the full backing of every lawmaker except for Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif. The bill created the justification for the forever wars that still rage on 17 years later.

Here is more, that includes a brief introduction to the interviewee in this article:

And steadily, all of the counterinsurgency tactics of these foreign wars have crept back home, Bernard Harcourt argues in a recent book. Called “The Counterrevolution: How Our Government Went to War Against Its Own Citizens” and it makes the argument that through NSA spying; Trump’s constant, daily distractions; and paramilitarized police forces or private security companies, the same counterinsurgency paradigm of warfare used against post-9/11 enemies has now come to U.S. soil as the effective governing strategy.

We are in the middle of an unprecedented paramilitarization of state and local law enforcement agencies in this country. Police at protests and demonstrations often look like they’re SEAL Team 6 getting ready to raid Osama bin Laden’s compound. Many agencies have received military equipment through a Defense Department program that allows police to obtain military equipment after it’s been used in foreign war zones.

I quite agree, and this paramilitarization is quite important, and does also seem to me to be unconstitutional.

Here is the last bit that I quote from this long article, which is about drones:

Heralded as “precise” or “surgical,” the drone strike won the public’s favor under Obama. Any public debate surrounding the use of drones as a legitimate replacement for boots-on-the-ground arguably ended in 2011, with the drone assassination of Anwar al-Awlaki and, subsequently, the strike that killed his 16-year-old son Abdulrahman. Instead of an arrest, trial, and verdict for these U.S. citizens, an execution by strike from the sky was authorized. A Gallup poll reported in 2013 that 65 percent of the American public supported drone strikes against overseas targets even after the killing of its own citizens. Harcourt writes, “[Drones] make killing even U.S. citizens abroad far more tolerable. And this tolerance is precisely what ends up eroding the boundaries between foreign policy and domestic governance.”

We spoke to Harcourt about his latest book, what makes the Trump presidency unique, and why we aren’t talking about drones anymore on the Intercepted podcast.

Quite so, and in fact, I only copied from the beginning of this article, and nothing from the long interview that follows the above. It is all strongly recommended.

3. What Happens If Julian Assange Is Tried in the US?

This article is by Srecko Horvat on Common Dreams and originally on Al-Jazeera English. It starts as follows:

Last week it became clear that what WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and his lawyers have been warning for seven years has already happened: He has been charged in a criminal case in the United States. The fear of being extradited and tried in the US has forced him to seek refuge at the Ecuadorian embassy in London since 2012. 

This news hardly came as a surprise to those of us who have been following his case or have been convinced that Assange's fate is of profound and historical importance and could define the future of the freedom of the press.

Yes, that is basically correct. Here is more:

What happens if Assange is tried in US

There are some in the West who are fully convinced that Assange deserves to be tried and thrown in jail for "threatening" US national security and "undermining" its democratic processes. Former US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and former Vice President Joe Biden have called him a "terrorist", US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, then the director of the CIA, has described WikiLeaks as a "non-state hostile intelligence service" and US Attorney General Jeff Sessions has said prosecuting Assange is a "priority" for him.

Many have also come to see him as a political player who purposefully sought to influence the outcome of the 2016 US presidential elections, while others consider him a stooge of Russian President Vladimir Putin, although no evidence for this was ever found. It is more likely that Assange's indictment is coming not as part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russia's role in the 2016 US election, but in response to WikiLeaks publishing the biggest leak in the history of the CIA called #Vault7

Whatever Assange's political leanings or views, his case is not about whether you like him or not, but about freedom of the press. As Edward Snowden rightly said: "You can despise WikiLeaks and everything it stands for. You can think Assange is an evil spirit reanimated by Putin himself, but you cannot support the prosecution of a publisher for publishing without narrowing the basic rights every newspaper relies on."

Well, first of all I do not think that Assange is ""threatening" US national security"; I also do not think that he is ""undermining" its democratic processes"; I think Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden were both lying (quite consciously so, also) when they called him a "terrorist", and I think Pompeo also was lying (again quite consciously so) when he called Wikileaks a "non-state hostile intelligence service".

Besides, I quite agree that Assange's "case is not about whether you like him or not, but about freedom of the press" and I also agree with Snowden. Besides, I do not know what "Assange's political leanings or views" are, and I doubt almost anyone who dislikes him has objective grounds for it.

Here is more from the article:

If Assange is eventually arrested, extradited to the US and stands trial there, he is almost certainly going to be found guilty - just as Chelsea Manning was - and he would probably end up in a Guantanamo-like prison. His prosecution and jailing would have global repercussions for whistle-blowers, publishers and journalists.

According to US lawyer and civil liberties advocate Ben Wizner at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU): "Any prosecution of Mr Assange for WikiLeaks' publishing operations would be unprecedented and unconstitutional, and would open the door to criminal investigations of other news organizations". 

In other words, a lawsuit that tries to make it illegal or a form of "espionage" to publish documents would set a dangerous precedent for publishers and journalists who routinely violate foreign secrecy laws to deliver information vital to the public's interest. It would endanger the very foundation of free press.

I completely agree with Ben Wizner. Here is te last bit that I quote from this long article:

Why this is important for all of us

We already live in a world in which politics and distribution of information are being profoundly transformed. Not only do dangerous populists and authoritarian leaders come to power by "manufacturing consent", backed by the use of "perception management" methods by tech companies or organised fake news campaigns, but they also come to power by openly spreading misinformation and concealing information of public interest. 

While it became "natural" for politicians to employ such questionable methods to reach power, it is the job of journalists, the media and whistle-blowers to keep such behaviour in check. Punishing them for doing their job - uncovering uncomfortable truths that those in power would like to keep away from the public - means removing one of the most important checks on executive political power. 

Precisely. And there is a whole lot more in this long article, all of which is strongly recommended.

4. UK Seizes Thousands of 'Potentially Explosive' Documents Facebook Has Tried to Keep Secret

This article is by Jake Johnson on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:
After Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg refused to testify at a joint hearing with lawmakers from seven nations over his company's invasive privacy practices, the U.K. Parliament on Saturday legally seized thousands of secret and "potentially explosive" Facebook documents in what was described as an extraordinary move to uncover information about the company's role in the Cambridge Analytica data-mining scandal.

According to the Guardian, the documents were initially obtained during a legal discovery process by the now-defunct U.S. software company Six4Three, which is currently suing Facebook.

Conservative MP Damian Collins, the Guardian reports, then "invoked a rare parliamentary mechanism" that compelled Six4Three's founder—who was on a business trip in London—to hand over the documents, which reportedly "contain significant revelations about Facebook decisions on data and privacy controls that led to the Cambridge Analytica scandal. It is claimed they include confidential emails between senior executives, and correspondence with Zuckerberg."
I say! And no, I did not know this, but I think this is good news. Here is a bit more:
"This week Facebook is going to learn the hard way that it is not above the law. In ignoring the inquiries of seven national parliaments, Mark Zuckerberg brought this escalation upon himself, as there was no other way to get this critical information," wrote Christopher Wylie, a whistleblower who was previously the director of research at Cambridge Analytica.
Well... I don't know what is in the documents that the U.K. Parliament seized, and I also doubt very much whether it will finish Facebook or Zuckerberg, but I despise both Facebook and Zuckerberg, and almost anything that hits either of these sick and criminal twins is welcomed by me. 

5. Why Democrats must embrace Ocasio-Cortez’s “Green New Deal” proposal

This article is by Paul Rosenberg on Salon. This is from near its start:
“We need a Green New Deal and we need to get to 100 percent renewables because our lives depend on it,” Rep.-elect Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez told reporters, as 51 protesters with the Sunrise Movement were arrested (and later released). Since then 13 members of Congress have signed on to support her proposal to establish a select committee tasked with developing a plan to transition to a carbon-neutral economy and beyond, with the ultimate goal of “economic and environmental justice and equality.”
I have written before about the Green New Deal (and the last link gives some information, although this is older than the above Green New Deal, which you will find under the last link).

Here is a bit on the background of
the above Green New Deal:

And it’s not just wildfires. A paper published Nov. 19 in Nature Climate Change found a broad threat to humanity from the cumulative impacts of global warming:

We found traceable evidence for 467 pathways by which human health, water, food, economy, infrastructure and security have been recently impacted by climate hazards such as warming, heatwaves, precipitation, drought, floods, fires, storms, sea-level rise and changes in natural land cover and ocean chemistry.

I think that is basically correct but not very specific. Here is more:
The basic idea of a New Green Deal is wildly popular. There was 70 percent support for “Green New Deal — Millions Of Clean-Energy Jobs” in the “Big Ideas” poll commissioned by the Progressive Change Institute in January 2015. This year, Data for Progress advanced its own, more detailed Green New Deal Plan, with polling showing related political appeal: In Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin — key to Trump’s 2016 election — voters were more, rather than less, likely to support a candidate "who supports moving the United States to 100 percent renewable energy by 2030" (..)
Well... the popularity was mainly with those who were not elected, for I do not think that "13 members of Congress" (who are said to support it) is a lot.

Here is the last bit I quote from this article:

Ocasio-Cortez may have been a bartender before running for Congress, but she’s not ignorant of how Congress works. Her select committee proposal is a detailed blueprint for getting something truly massive done, with the full knowledge that Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump would never sign off on it. It’s intended to guide the development of fully-fleshed out legislation to be ready to go in the first months of the next administration, with the plan completed by Jan. 1, 2020.

I think this is a decent idea, for the simple reason that until 2020 there will certainly not be enough votes in the House and the Senate to implement it, or even a part of it. 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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