IndexNL-Next

Nederlog

March 26, 2019

Crisis: On The Mueller Report, Russiagate & WMD, On Information, Greenwald & Johnston, On Trump


“Nothing in all the world is more dangerous, than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”
  -- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.







Sections

Introduction

1. Summary
2.
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from March 26, 2019
Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Tuesday, March 26, 2019.

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 three 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 March 26, 2019:
1. Mueller Report Ends a Shameful Period for the Press  
2. It's official: Russiagate is this generation's WMD

3. Pentagon: Google’s Work on Drones Exempt From the Freedom of
     Information Act

4. Glenn Greenwald vs. David Cay Johnston

5. Trump Is Going to Thank MSNBC Until November 2020
The items 1 - 5 are today's selections from the 35 sites that I look at everyorning. The indented text under each link is quoted from the link that starts the item. Unindented text is by me:

1. Mueller Report Ends a Shameful Period for the Press

This article is by Chris Hedges on Truthdig. It starts as follows:

The Mueller report’s categorical statement that Donald Trump and his campaign did not collude with Russia ends one of the most shameful periods in modern American journalism, one that rivals the mindless cheerleading for the Iraq War by most of the press. It further erodes and may prove fatal to the credibility of a press that has steadfastly rendered most of the country invisible and functions as little more than an array of gossiping courtiers to the elites.

Yes indeed, and I think that is very dangerous, but it also has been going on for nearly 20 years at least, that is, if it started with the lies about Iraq´s Weapons of Mass Destruction (that never were there).

For this means, indeed especially in the mainstream media, which is what the vast majority of people watch or read, that these do not write the truth but propaganda and/oe lies, and that this can go on for years or decades.

Incidentally, I belonged from the beginning to the side that is now shown to truthful, that said there was no evidence that Trump colluded with Russia, and I did so (I think) for basically three reasons: (i) I can program my self (quite well, thank you); (ii) I read the publications of - especially but not only - the VIPS (who were specialists in American intelligence, and who also were excellent programmers); and (iii) I am and always was primarily interested in finding out what is the truth, which these days - and in my experience since 1978 - also seems rare (since the truth doesn´t pay, but lies that are convenient to the rich or the powerful do pay, and quite well).

Anyway... here is some more:

The charge that Russia stole the election, that Vladimir Putin has secret “pee tapes” of Trump cavorting in a Moscow hotel with prostitutes or that Trump has been a longtime “Kremlin agent,” repeated by reporters whose work I admired in the past, is demagoguery as pernicious as the vile taunts and racist tropes that come out of the White House. The press endlessly repeated such allegations while ignoring the expanding social inequality and suffering of a country where half the population lives in poverty, as well as the collapse of our democratic institutions. These facts, not Russian manipulation, saw enraged American voters elect a demagogue who at least belittles the elites, including those in the press, who sold them out.

Yes, I think that is basically true. Here is some more:

The mainstream press, owned by the corporations that have extinguished the democratic state and are fleecing the public, as well as destroying the ecosystem on which we depend for life, does not hold its employers to account. The empty chatter about Russia, including in The New York Times, exposes the bankruptcy of the U.S. media. MSNBC and CNN, which long ago abandoned journalism for entertainment, have breathlessly clogged the airwaves with ridiculous conspiracy theories and fantasies and used them to justify a faux crusade.

Yes, I think again that is basically true. Here is some more:

Rachel Maddow, like Jack Tapper or any other fatuous news celebrity, will not be held to account for slogging through this fiction night after night. Maddow will still collect her $10-million-a-year salary. And the handful of reporters who exhibited journalistic integrity—Glenn Greenwald, Matt Taibbi, Aaron Maté, Robert Scheer, Max Blumenthal and Katrina vanden Heuvel—will continue to remain on the margins of the media landscape. The press is an arm of the corporate-funded burlesque that has replaced the country’s political life and turned civic debate into a vast reality show.

I think this is also very probably true, although I would not have written ¨replaced¨ in the last statement, but ¨obscured¨ (for there keeps being political life also if the mainstream media mostly lie about it and many more things).

Here is the ending of the article:

It is not only Trump who has obliterated the line between fact and fiction. It is the press. It hyped and reported allegations it never investigated or confirmed. And by doing this, repeating failures of the kind that appeared in its coverage of the invasion of Iraq, it has committed suicide. A nation that lacks a functioning press becomes a tyranny. This is not Trump’s fault, but our own.

I am afraid that is also mostly true, though I do not think it was my fault. And this is a strongly recommended article.


2. It's official: Russiagate is this generation's WMD

This article is by Matt Taibbi on his site. It starts as follows:

Nobody wants to hear this, but news that Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller is headed home without issuing new charges is a death-blow for the reputation of the American news media.

As has long been rumored, the former FBI chief’s independent probe will result in multiple indictments and convictions, but no “presidency-wrecking” conspiracy charges, or anything that would meet the layman’s definition of “collusion” with Russia.

With the caveat that even this news might somehow turn out to be botched, the key detail in the many stories about the end of the Mueller investigation was best expressed by the New York Times:

A senior Justice Department official said that Mr. Mueller would not recommend new indictments.

Attorney General William Barr sent a letter to congress summarizing Mueller’s conclusions. The money line quoted the Mueller report:

[T]he investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.

Yes, I think this is almost all quite correct, although I do not quite agree with the thesis that this outcome ¨is a death-blow for the reputation of the American news media¨, indeed for at least two reasons: Firstly, the mainstream media in the USA have been lying to the public that watches or reads them ever since 2001 (at least). And second, this has not kept them from being believed by considerable parts of the public.

Anyway. Here is some more:

Nothing Trump is accused of from now on by the press will be believed by huge chunks of the population, a group that (perhaps thanks to this story) is now larger than his original base. As Baker notes, a full 50.3% of respondents in a poll conducted this month said they agree with Trump the Mueller probe is a “witch hunt.”

I don´t know, and I have two reasons for my ignorance: (i) ¨huge chunks of the population¨ not only believe what the mainstream media tell them, but also have a quite short memory, while (ii) I am not at all amazed by the fact (I take it) that half of the American population ¨said they agree with Trump the Mueller probe is a “witch hunt”¨, for the simple reason that I also know half of the American population has an IQ under 100 (and have an - for me, at least - often amazing ignorance).

Here is some more:

The biggest thing this affair has uncovered so far is Donald Trump paying off a porn star. That’s a hell of a long way from what this business was supposedly about at the beginning, and shame on any reporter who tries to pretend this isn’t so.

The story hyped from the start was espionage: a secret relationship between the Trump campaign and Russian spooks who’d helped him win the election.

Yes indeed. But around here also starts a lot more information on specific persons and problems
that I leave to my readers´ interests. (I think myself this part is mostly of interest to American journalists, but since I am neither an American nor a journalist, I skip it.)

After that, there is this bit:

Russiagate institutionalized one of the worst ethical loopholes in journalism, which used to be limited mainly to local crime reporting. It’s always been a problem that we publish mugshots and names of people merely arrested but not yet found guilty. Those stories live forever online and even the acquitted end up permanently unable to get jobs, smeared as thieves, wife-beaters, drunk drivers, etc.

With Russiagate the national press abandoned any pretense that there’s a difference between indictment and conviction.

Possibly so (and in Holland this is not done, though it is done in most surrounding countries).

And this is from the ending:

As a purely journalistic failure, however, WMD was a pimple compared to Russiagate. The sheer scale of the errors and exaggerations this time around dwarfs the last mess. Worse, it’s led to most journalists accepting a radical change in mission. We’ve become sides-choosers, obliterating the concept of the press as an independent institution whose primary role is sorting fact and fiction.
I fear this may be true and this is a recommended article

3. Pentagon: Google’s Work on Drones Exempt From the Freedom of Information Act

This article is by Sam Biddle on The Intercept. I abbreviated the title. It starts as follows:

In September 2017, Aileen Black wrote an email to her colleagues at Google. Black, who led sales to the U.S. government, worried that details of the company’s work to help the military guide lethal drones would become public through the Freedom of Information Act. “We will call tomorrow to reinforce the need to keep Google under the radar,” Black wrote.

According to a Pentagon memo signed last year, however, no one at Google needed worry: All 5,000 pages of documents about Google’s work on the drone effort, known as Project Maven, are barred from public disclosure, because they constitute “critical infrastructure security information.”

One government transparency advocate said the memo is part of a recent wave of federal decisions that  keep sensitive documents secret on that same basis — thus allowing agencies to quickly deny document requests.

I take it this happened and is true. Also, I think this is a great shame, because (i) I think the public - those who the governers are said to govern for - is quite capable of knowing almost anything the government does, while also (ii) if that is denied, this means that ¨public information¨ does no longer need to be true, as long as it does serve the ends of those who govern. And this is what seems to have happened (also in the present case, which is neither about Russia-gate nor abour Iraq´s Weapons of Mass Destruction).

Here is one more bit from this article:

Neither the Pentagon nor Google is known for its dedication to institutional transparency, and so it’s not surprising that these questions remain open. Luckily, there’s a federal law designed to force the government to divulge information in the public interest, even when a given agency would rather keep its secrets. The Freedom of Information Act is a vital tool for journalism, watchdog groups, academics, and anyone else hoping to bring news to the public about what its government is doing in its name. But the government says Project Maven is immune.

In response to a Freedom of Information Act request I filed more than a year ago, seeking documents related to Project Maven’s use of Google technology, the Defense Department said that it had discovered 5,000 pages of relevant material — and that every single page was exempt from disclosure.

Well... if that is true, the Freedom of Information Act should be renamed the Unfreedom of Information Act. Anyway... this is the only article today that is not given to Mueller´s Report.
It is recommended, especially if this continues for Google and the Pentagon, for it seems fairly probable this UnFreedom of Information will grow to cover a lot more.

4. Glenn Greenwald vs. David Cay Johnston

This article is by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! I abbreviated the title. It starts with the following introduction:

As congressional Democrats call on the Justice Department to release the full Mueller report, we speak to Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists who have closely followed the probes into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election: Glenn Greenwald, a founding editor of The Intercept and a leading critic of the media coverage of alleged Russian collusion, and David Cay Johnston, formerly of The New York Times, now founder and editor of DCReport.org, who has written critically about Donald Trump for decades. His most recent book is “It’s Even Worse Than You Think: What the Trump Administration Is Doing to America.”

Yes indeed, and I should like to say at the beginning of this quite long interview that Greenwald and Johnston do agree on most things (they report about), and admire each other.

Here is some more:

AMY GOODMAN: (..) David, your response to the Mueller report and to William Barr’s summary of what he found?

DAVID CAY JOHNSTON: Well, we don’t know what’s in the Mueller report. We only know the brief interpretation offered by Bill Barr. But that interpretation opens whole new cans of worms. The standard here should not be beyond a reasonable doubt. That’s the criminal standard. The standard is the constitutional requirements, which are faithful execution of the office and high crimes and misdemeanors, which doesn’t require any criminal offense of any kind, as the 18 impeachment proceedings we’ve had in this country have established beyond a doubt.

We need to see the full report. We need to have Mueller’s testimony.

I agree with Johnston. Here is more:

AMY GOODMAN: Glenn Greenwald, your response?

GLENN GREENWALD: This is the saddest media spectacle I’ve ever seen, since I began practicing journalism in 2005. And what makes it even sadder is to watch all of the people who vested their journalistic credibility into what proved to be a complete and total fraud and scam continue to try and cling to some vestige of credibility by continuing to spin conspiracy theories that are even more reckless and more unhinged than the ones to which we’ve been subjected for three years. The great journalist and writer Matt Taibbi wrote in an article over the weekend, and I agree with him completely, that as humiliating as the media debacle was leading up to the Iraq War, what they did over the last three years in the Trump-Russia story makes all of that look like a pimple.

I more or less agree, although I like to add that, as yet, it is at present only a few days that Barr´s summary of Mueller´s report was published.

Here is more:

GLENN GREENWALD: Did Donald Trump, his family members and his aides conspire and collaborate and collude with the Russians to interfere in the election? And contrary to what David just said, it is absolutely false that Robert Mueller simply said there’s not enough evidence to convict with a reasonable doubt. He said something much, much, much, much more important than that. He said that after 20 months of investigation, with a huge team of FBI agents and prosecutors, heralded as being the most aggressive and skilled in the world, we found no evidence that this happened. That’s what Robert Mueller said. The whole thing was a scam and a fraud from the beginning.

I think this is very probably true, and I like to remind my readers that this ¨scam and fraud¨ seems to have been started by Hillary Clinton immediately after she failed to become president.

Here is some more:

GLENN GREENWALD: Well, let me just say a couple of things. First of all, prior to Bob Mueller’s appointment, I was calling for a full-scale investigation in which all of the facts at the conclusion of the investigation would be publicly revealed, so that we would stop having to rely on media leaks that the CIA and the NSAFBI were engineering and manipulating and lying to us, as we now know, so that we could see the full picture. So I continue to believe that we should see the full Mueller report. I support that completely.

Secondly, let me say, as well, that I believe that Donald Trump is one of the most corrupt people ever to occupy the White House. I am certain that he’s guilty of all kinds of crimes—war crimes as president, financial crimes as a business person.

Yes, I agree (and Greenwald agrees with Johnston). Here is some more:

GLENN GREENWALD: It’s time to face the truth. The media got this story wrong. They obsessed on this for three years, and all this time there was no evidence for it. It was just a conspiracy theory. Rachel Maddow, the most influential liberal TV host in the country, every single night misled millions of liberals into believing something that was totally false, and there will be no media consequences for it. And that is extremely grave and serious, no matter how much is true about how corrupt Donald Trump is in his financial dealings or any of the other stuff that people are now trying to deflect our attention onto.

Yes, I agree again. Here is the last bit that I quote from this - much longer - article:

GLENN GREENWALD: Right, that’s the question. Why did millions of people vote for a complete joke of a game show host? And how did the Democrats lose the presidency to one of the most embarrassing spectacles of a candidate in U.S. history? What is the prevailing ideology of the ruling class that has turned millions and millions of people, and to this country, into such angry citizens that they either refuse to vote or vote for the person who promises to burn down the entire system? Why are they so angry? What has happened to their economic security? What ideology and what group of people are responsible for that?

These are all good questions, but I also repeat that - in my opinion, at least - a good part of an explanation for several of the above questions is that a considerable number of the Americans - more than half, by my reckoning - is stupid and/or ignorant, and these two facts are the main reason why they can be so easily deceived. And this is a strongly recommended article.


5. Trump Is Going to Thank MSNBC Until November 2020

This article is by Caitlin Johnstone on Consortium News. It starts as follows:
U.S. Attorney General William Barr has sent a letter to congressional officials which you can read here. It contains the following unequivocal quote:

    “The Special Counsel’s investigation did not find that the Trump campaign or anyone associated with it conspired or coordinated with Russia in its efforts to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election. As the report states: “[T]he investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”

A footnote on the document clarifies that the Mueller investigation defined coordination with the Russian government very broadly, to include not just overt coordination but any “agreement — tacit or express — between the Trump Campaign and the Russian government on election interference.” No such agreement, tacit or otherwise, was found to have taken place.

So that’s it then. The central and foundational claim of the Russia-gate conspiracy theory has been found to have been completely baseless.
Yes indeed. Here is some more:
“No Collusion, No Obstruction, Complete and Total EXONERATION. KEEP AMERICA GREAT!” tweeted America’s reality TV star president exactly as you would expect him to, taking some creative license with the actual contents of Barr’s letter.

This is your life for the next 594 days, America. You can expect to hear over and over and over again, from today until November 2020, that the president was victimized for over two years by a “WITCH HUNT” which was “COMPLETE and TOTAL FAKE NEWS!” All Trump will have to do to get re-elected is keep his economy narrative going and repeat the claim that he’s been unjustly persecuted by the establishment “swamp.”
Actually, I think what the above quoted second paragraph says is rather unlikely, though indeed it may prove quite true for Fox News. I think it is unlikely for CNN and MSNBC.

Here is some more:
So thanks, Rachel Maddow. Thanks Adam Schiff, Maxine Waters and Eric Swalwell. Thanks CNN and MSNBC, Washington Post and New York Times. Thanks supposed progressives like Bernie Sanders and The Young Turks. Thank you to everyone who spent the first half of Trump’s term helping to push the Russiagate narrative, thereby helping to ensure another four years of this asshole advancing longstanding establishment agendas of war, nuclear brinkmanship and ecocide. Thank you so much for helping to inflict that upon our planet with no regard for the inevitable consequences of your actions.
Well... not quite, at least.

First of all, there is - I think - a considerable difference between Rachel Maddow, CNN, MSNBC and the Washington Post on the one hand, and Bernie Sanders and The Young Turks on the other hand.

Second, one may be honestly mistaken, and I also think it is not quite fair to comprise Sanders and The Young Turks under those who were ¨
helping to ensure another four years of this asshole advancing longstanding establishment agendas of war, nuclear brinkmanship and ecocide¨.

Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:
But you’ve also got CNN’s Reliable Sources host Brian Stelter sharing Matt Taibbi’s excellent article titled “It’s official: Russiagate is this generation’s WMD,” which describes the mass media’s spectacular failures to ask the questions that needed to be asked and demand the evidence that needed to be demanded for the claims advanced in the Russiagate narrative.
Yes indeed, and you´ll find Matt Taibbi´s article linked and reviewed here. And this is a recommended article.

Note
[1] I have now been saying since the end of 2015 that xs4all.nl 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 3 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 (!!).
       home - index - summaries - mail