Aug 11, 2016

Crisis: Medical Spying, Trump & Mafia, Murder (?), Carlin, Tax Wall Street
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How the U.S. Spies on Medical Nonprofits and Health
     Defenses Worldwide

2. "The Making of Donald Trump": David Cay Johnston on
     Trump's Ties to the Mob & Drug Traffickers

3. Donald Trump’s Implied Assassination Threat, Fox
     News and the NRA

4. George Carlin’s Daughter Calls for a Second Look at
     ‘Political Correctness’

5. Why a Tax on Wall Street Trades is an Even Better
     Idea Than You Know

This is a Nederlog of Thursday, August 11, 2016.

This is a crisis log. In fact, this is a fairly brief Nederlog mostly because I am quite tired, because I didn't sleep enough last night. And while this is not serious, it did hinder me some, mostly because it is difficult to get really awake. Anyway...

There are 5 items with 5 dotted links: Item 1 is about how the NSA is (also) trying to get everything medical they can get, on anyone, anywhere (to the best of my knowledge); item 2 is about someone who clarifies some about Trump's connections to the Mafia and to other crooks; item 3 is about an article by Amy Goodman and Denis Moynihan on the implied assassination threat by Trump; item 4 is an interesting article that is mostly by Kelly Carlin, who outlines that political correctness is (in her opinion) a mixture of leftist political ideas with fascist tactics (I like it, and would have said more about this if I had been more awake: I have been faced by political correctness since 1977, and I mostly agree); while item 5 is about an idea of Robert Reich to get more tax money (that I agree with, but that will be much opposed by Wall Street).

How the U.S. Spies on Medical Nonprofits and Health Defenses Worldwide

The first item today is by Jenna McLaughlin on The Intercept:
  • How the U.S. Spies on Medical Nonprofits and Health Defenses Worldwide

This starts as follows:

As part of an ongoing effort to “exploit medical intelligence,” the National Security Agency teamed up with the military-focused Defense Intelligence Agency to extract “medical SIGINT” from the intercepted communications of nonprofit groups starting in the early 2000s, a top-secret document shows.

Medical intelligence can include information about disease outbreaks; the ability of a foreign regime to respond to chemical, biological, and nuclear attacks; the capabilities of overseas drugs companies; advances in medical technology; medical research, and the medical response capabilities of various governments, according to the document and others like it, provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. The documents show that such intelligence is used in efforts to protect U.S. forces, assess the readiness of foreign armies, create opportunities for U.S. diplomats to build goodwill, uncover chemical weapons programs, identify specific bio-weapons facilities, and study how diseases spread.

In brief: Absolutely nothing is safe from the spies of the NSA (and the GCHQ etc. etc. etc.). They appropriate anything they can get from anyone anywhere and this also covers your (and mine and anyone else's) health reports; your (etc.) doctor's reports a.s.o., all because this is supposed "to protect U.S. forces".

Well, I am not a U.S. citizen; I never had the health since I was 28 to go there; my father's father has been murdered in a German concentrationcamp and my father survived for such camps for 3 years, 9 months and 15 days (both because they were, according to collaborating Dutch judges [1], "political terrorists" from the Dutch Communist Party); and I fundamentally object to the NSA holding anything about me, for they are the closest to the Gestapo that I know of, in the present world, and extremely dangerous to anyone interested in personal freedom and democracy.

Then again, I know that nothing I will say will make one whit of difference to the sick practices of the NSA. Even so, this is what I think (and I am severely understating my judgments on the persons who work for the NSA  as if that were an honorable and fair job: no, it isn't (in my opinion). [2]).

Here is some more on on "medical intelligence" with additional information on another release of papers collected by Snowden and released by The Intercept:

The existence and broad contours of U.S. medical intelligence collection have been previously disclosed (as has one of its more nefarious uses, in which the flow of medical supplies would be used to hunt down a targeted individual). But a top-secret, previously-unreleased article published in November 2003 in the NSA’s internal newsletter, SIDtoday, details the birth of a collaboration between the agency and the DIA’s National Center for Medical Intelligence, then known as the Armed Forces Medical Intelligence Center. (The article is being published along with 262 others by The Intercept today; here are some other highlights.)

There is considerably more in the article.

As to the SIDtoday information: I downloaded it (it expands to 9.4 MB of files) and examined it some: It is all from 2003 till 2005, and it is somewhat interesting, though not very much for me, simply because it contains a lot of information that is interesting if you closely study the NSA, but I don't do this  and in fact I also do not want to do this. [3]

In case you are seriously interested in the NSA, I think this download should interest you.

2."The Making of Donald Trump": David Cay Johnston on Trump's Ties to the Mob & Drug Traffickers

The second item is by Amy Goodman and Juan González on Democracy Now!:
  • "The Making of Donald Trump": David Cay Johnston on Trump's Ties to the Mob & Drug Traffickers
This starts as follows:
David Cay Johnston began covering Donald Trump in the 1980s when he was working as the Atlantic City reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer. Johnston’s new book, "The Making of Donald Trump," looks at a side of Trump seldom covered in the press: his ties to the mob, drug traffickers and felons.
AMY GOODMAN: (...) Why don’t we start off with your response to what Trump said yesterday?

DAVID CAY JOHNSTON: Well, I’ve been listening to right-wing radio about this, and all sorts of people are saying, "There goes the liberal media again. He never said that." He certainly said it to people who are zealots, people who are deranged, people who are dangerous. And without question, this was way beyond the pale. But, you know, this will happen again. This is who Donald Trump is. He is a bully. He is someone who believes that whatever he thinks is in his interest in the moment is in the national interest.

In fact, this bit is not about Trump's mafia connections, but about Trump's statements that I discussed yesterday, that were relayed by The Huffington Post as follows:

Donald Trump on Tuesday warned his supporters that if Hillary Clinton is elected president and appoints judges to the Supreme Court, there is nothing anyone can do about it. But then he added that, given the Second Amendment, maybe there is.

"If she gets to pick her judges - nothing you can do, folks," Trump said with a shrug at a rally in Wilmington, North Carolina. "Although, the Second Amendment people. Maybe there is. I don't know."

I agree with Johnston that Trump is a bully, but then I also think he is mad (and I am a psychologist) - and indeed I would also say that someone who does think that "whatever he thinks is in his interest in the moment is in the national interest" thereby shows that he is quite irrational (for no rational person thinks this).

Then again, I do not know how much the present Trump differs from the Trump of the 1980ies, when Johnston started to cover Trump. (My personal guess is: Not very much, but then he also didn't claim then he wanted to be president, nor had he gained the presidential candidacy, both of which - I guess again - have increased what Johnston calls his bullying, which I tend
to explain by his madness).

And here is a bit of Johnston on Trump's connection with the Mafia and other crooks:

DAVID CAY JOHNSTON: Yes, and it’s not just the traditional Mafia families in New York. First of all, Donald Trump’s father had a business partner who was a mob guy. I’m sure Wayne talked about that. But Donald has done business with people with the Russian mob. He’s done business with con artists. The guy who supplied his helicopters and managed his personal helicopter, called the Ivana, from his first wife back then, was a major cocaine trafficker, who actually handled the drugs. And after he went to prison, Donald wrote a letter pleading for mercy for him, so he got 18 months as the head of the ring. The little fish who delivered the drugs, they got 20 years. Donald continued to do business with him after he was indicted. Donald has done business all his life with mobsters and criminals, because it’s a way to make money.

There is considerably more under the last dotted link.

3. Donald Trump’s Implied Assassination Threat, Fox News and the NRA
The third item is by Amy Goodman and Denis Moynihan on Truthdig:
  • Donald Trump’s Implied Assassination Threat, Fox News and the NRA

This starts as follows (and is not an interview):

Donald Trump is giving new meaning to “bully pulpit,” ratcheting his irrational campaign rhetoric to new and dangerous lows. In North Carolina Tuesday, he said: “Hillary wants to abolish—essentially, abolish—the Second Amendment. By the way, and if she gets to pick—if she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is.” Trump’s suggestion that his supporters could assassinate Hillary Clinton or the judges she might appoint provoked outrage, not only nationally, but around the globe. His virulent, demagogic language did not alienate everyone, though; as more and more Republicans denounce Trump, he still enjoys fervid support from some personalities at Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News Channel and the National Rifle Association. This unholy trinity of Trump, Fox and the NRA could easily provoke political violence during this campaign season.

I quite agree. There is also this:

Embedded in much of the bombast against Clinton is a deep-seated misogyny that is evident in many mass shootings, from Orlando shooter Omar Mateen, who beat his wife, to Adam Lanza, who killed his mother at home before the Sandy Hook massacre.

The article ends as follows:

“Words matter,” Hillary Clinton said at a campaign rally in Des Moines, Iowa, Wednesday. “If you are running to be president, or if you are president of the United States, words can have tremendous consequences.” Donald Trump has pledged to pay the legal fees for people who physically assault protesters at his rallies. He has insulted women, Muslims, Mexicans and Mexican-Americans. He mocked a disabled reporter. He has predicted that if he loses, it will be due to a “rigged” election. One of his closest advisers predicts such a loss will provoke a “bloodbath.”

Trump is a dangerous demagogue who is inciting violence, and the time for it to stop is now.

I agree, though I think it is probably too late to stop him now: He must be beaten (though I agree he is mad, and should not compete for the presidency, and cannot be trusted with the codes to fire atomic weapons - but then you would need a somewhat competent and somewhat honest Republican Party to see to it that their presidential candidates are, at least, not mentally ill, and there is no such Republican Party left, it seems).

4. George Carlin’s Daughter Calls for a Second Look at ‘Political Correctness’

The fourth item is by Alexander Reed Kelly on Truthdig:

  • George Carlin’s Daughter Calls for a Second Look at ‘Political Correctness’
This starts as follows:

While well-intended in its origins, political correctness today is “an interesting mixing of progressive ideals with fascist tactics,” a combination that helped Donald Trump win the GOP nomination, says Kelly Carlin, daughter of the late comedian George Carlin. (...)
Carlin later elaborated on her critique of political correctness.

I really like this, in part because I really like George Carlin (<-Wikipedia)
and in part because I have been faced by
political correctness from the very start, in 1977, for it was then for the first time (indeed, already in August of 1977) that the politically correct stalinists from the Dutch student-organization ASVA called me "a dirty fascist", because I had said I knew Marx, but thought Peirce and Russell were greater philosophers (which I also said in a friendly and polite way - after which I was told I was "a dirty fascist").

What these folks did not know was that my father and grandfather had both been communists; that my grandfather had been murdered in a German concentrationcamp for that reason, and my father survived 3 years, 9 months and 15 days in German concentrationcamps for that reason; and that both of my parents then still lived, and were members of the communist party since
the 1930ies and 1940ies. (I disagreed with them, but I respected their communism, which was both honest and real, unlike the "communism" of those I met in the University of Amsterdam: that was fashionable bullshit).

And I certainly did not tell them this, after having been grossly offended by a couple of twenty year olds, who seemed to me to be very fresh members of the Dutch communist party, who knew not 1% of what I knew about Marx, and who knew nothing about Peirce or Russell except their nationalities. I also did not tell them that I had been a member of the communist party for two years, but had left it because I disagreed with Marx and with totalitarianism.

In fact, there is a lot to be said here that I will leave out because I did not sleep enough last night, and because it is long ago (40 years next year).

But I do want to insist on four points here: (1) I was quite offended then, but did not show this in any way; (2) the same schema was used by many members of the ASVA from 1977 till 1987: I was called "a fascist" ("a dirty fascist", "something like a fascist" etc.) for about 10 years, off and on, by quite a few always with the intent of "proving" their own superiority by offending me, and at least several tens of times (in part also because I was an opponent of the ASVA); (3) the lesson I drew from it is that those who offended me in this gross and - to me, given my family-background - very offensive way in fact were little different from what they accused me of, which also means that I do agree with Kelly Carlin; and (4) indeed also because there were no anti-fascists like me in the UvA at all: Everyone who pretended
to be "a Marxist" there (very many) was not a real Marxist, like my parents and grandparents were, but was merely acting as if, and according to the local political ideals. [4]

Here is some more by Kelly Carlin:

My dad kind of had these daddy teaching moments with me where he would like make sure that I understood, in the ’60s especially; I was born in ’63, so by ’69 I was 6, 7 during all of that stuff. My dad went to do Kent State and we went with him, and he took me to the memorial where the kids had been shot a few years earlier. My dad made sure that I understood what was going on. I was there in Summerfest when my dad got arrested for saying the “seven dirty words” onstage. So it was a real life day-to-day thing for me, and it felt very dangerous to live the life we were living that time. We were on the side of the freaks. Nixon was in the White House. This was not an easy time to be different in this country.

It is a considerable pity for me that I only found out that George Carlin existed in 2010, more than two years after he died: I would have liked to know about him much earlier (but there was no internet, and indeed until 2009 the internet I had since 1996 wasn't fast enough to show videos).

Here is some more by Kelly Carlin:

Political correctness is based on identity politics; it’s about people wanting to claim the right to speak from their own subjective point of view, “I’m a gay person, a black person. I’m a woman.” Whatever it is. It’s all about identity politics. It’s all about, “I am this, and this is my life experience.” This is a really important thing for our civilization and society, to be able to have that voice, for all these oppressed voices to finally speak out and to define themselves.

The problem that happens is that then it becomes about the thought police. “I want to define myself this way, and I want to make sure that you define me this way too. And you don’t get to define me any other way.” And that’s when we get into trouble, because now I’m controlling what you want to think and what you want to say.

Yes indeed, but I think it is more complicated. First, "identity politics" (<- Wikipedia) (that I have been exposed to or know about, at least) is in fact a totalitarian politics that mostly denies that there are real individual persons: a person is a member of a group, and the group is the important thing, not the person (or only as he/she speaks for the group) [5]; and second, because those engaging in "identity politics" tended to disbelieve in any objective truth: truth did not exist, in their opinion ("because everything is ideology", it was said in the 1970ies, or "because there just is no truth", from the 1980ies onwards).

She also says this, which seems a bit confused to me:

Studying the themes, I talk a lot about it, and one of the things I love about what my father said about it is that it’s about tolerance ultimately. Identity politics is about tolerance, but not tolerating someone’s speech in service of tolerance, so intolerance in service of tolerance, does not work. ... it’s about the marketplace of ideas. It’s not just about me declaring, “I am a woman, this is my perspective,” but it’s about learning to have conversation. And because of identity politics we no longer know how to have a conversation in this culture anymore.

The reason this seems a bit confused is that it was (at least in my rather extensive experiences with various kinds of postmodernists) not so much about tolerance as it was about the lack of objective standards and the lack of any objective truth.

So that’s my take on it: It’s an interesting mixing of progressive ideals with fascist tactics, political correctness in general.

Yes, I agree, indeed in part because of my extensive experiences in the University of Amsterdam, but it is more complicated than this. (But I am too tired to explain much, today. I probably will return to this subject later.)

5. Why a Tax on Wall Street Trades is an Even Better Idea Than You Know

The fifth item today is by Robert Reich on his site:
  • Why a Tax on Wall Street Trades is an Even Better Idea Than You Know
This has the following (and is the only bit I'll quote from this short article):

Putting a small tax on financial transactions would:

1. reduce incentives for high speed trading, insider deal making and short term financial betting. Buying and selling stocks and bonds in order to beat others who are buying stocks and bonds is a giant zero sum game. It wastes countless resources, uses up the talents of some of the nation’s best and brightest and subjects financial markets to unnecessary risk.

2. generate lots of revenue. Even a one tenth of 1% transaction tax would raise $185 billion over 10 years according to the non-partisan Tax Policy Center. It could thereby finance public investments that enlarge the economic pie rather than merely rearranging its slices. Investments like better schools and access to college.

3. it’s fair. After all, Americans pay sales taxes on all sorts of goods and services, yet Wall Street traders pay no sales tax on the stocks and bonds they buy, which helps explain why the financial industry generates about 30% of America’s corporate profits, but pays only about 18% of corporate taxes.

Wall Street’s objections are baloney.

I agree (of course), but I do have a problem with it:

This is a good idea, and I also agree that most other countries do have such a tax, but it seems to me not very likely this will get passed, simply because Wall Street has become very much more powerful the last 26 years.

And I hope I am mistaken, but I don't think this has any chance of getting passed without Hillary Clinton gaining the presidency and a lot of seats in the Senate and the Congress, and even then it doesn't seem very likely, because Hillary tends to do what the banks want her to do, and so far they have been against any tax on their own dealings.

But we will see, I guess.


[1] Nearly all Dutch judges collaborated in WW II, as did most of the police. Collaboration was the natural Dutch response to Nazism, and was extremely widely practised in Holland where, as one result, over 100.000 Jews (by "race", not by faith) were arrested and murdered. Those Dutchmen who were most responsible for this (the Nazis were more important, but were Germans), the heads of the collaborating Jewish Council David Cohen and Abraham Asscher, did not even have to face any judge or any court after the end of WW II, and also could hold all the money they still had, as thanks for ably assisting the SS.

As professor dr. Karel van het Reve said, it was their aim to help the Germans arrest the poor Jews, so that the rich Jews could survive. It seems likely to me that the rich Jews, including Cohen and Asscher, were in the end also to be murdered, but before that could happen WW II had ended. Meanwhile, as I said, over 100.000 Dutch Jews were arrested with their help and subsequently murdered (which they may not have known, although David Cohen visited the concentrationcamp Amersfoort, where my father and grandfather were locked up, and he can hardly have not known that people there were starved and worked and beaten to death there, in very cruel ways).

As to the Dutch judges: Most collaborated during the war, and continued to be judges after the war. The whole Dutch Supreme Court collaborated, with one exception: Their president was Jewish, and he was soon dismissed for that reason. He died soon after, but his Jewish wife was arrested and gassed. Again, I do not know of any Dutch judge that was ever punished for his behavior under Nazi occupation of Holland.

[2] Incidentally, the day I heard about Edward Snowden - June 10, 2013 - I said he was "an extra-ordinary man", which I still think, if only because there were no others who did as he did.

[3] I lack the time, the health and also the taste for it. I agree it is important to understand the NSA and other secret services, but apart from lacking the time and the health, I also lack the taste, indeed in part because
my judgement on persons willing to spy on anyone, regardless of what he or she had done, and regardless of any judicial approval, is extremely low.

[4] I should also add here that all the Dutch universities between 1971 and 1995 were in fact something like the property of the students, simply because there were in these years university- and faculty-parliaments, both of which needed elections each year, in which the votes were taken according to 1 man = 1 vote, which meant that the students from 1971 till 1995 had the absolute majority almost everywhere, and certainly in the university- parliament.

And the majority of the students were very leftist or communists until ca. 1983, and were postmodernists after 1983. (This situation was completely unique in the world, and was undone by an act of the national parliament in 1995.)

[5] Indeed - again in terms of my quite extensive experiences in Holland - the politically correct did not say "I am a gay person, I am a black person": They said "I am gay, I am black" etc. And I think that was mostly intentional. The individual person was left out, for all that counted was membership in a group. (The last link is quite relevant.)

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