August 31, 2018

Crisis: German Neo-Nazis, Kidnapped Children, Fraud & Tax Cuts, VIPS & Brennan, Spirit of '68


1. Summary
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from August 31, 2018

This is a Nederlog of Friday, August 31, 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 August 31, 2018:
1. German Neo-Nazis Rally Again in Chemnitz, This Time Without Hitler
     Salutes or Mob Violence

2. The Continuing Tragedy of the Separated Children
3. Fraud at the Heart of Republican Tax Cuts
4. VIPS Tells Media Support for Brennan is Not Unanimous
5. Reviving the Spirit of ’68
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. German Neo-Nazis Rally Again in Chemnitz, This Time Without Hitler Salutes or Mob Violence

This article is by Robert Mackey on The Intercept. It starts as follows:
For a third night this week, far-right protesters vented their rage at the killing of a German man during a fight with immigrants from Iraq and Syria in the eastern German city of Chemnitz. On Thursday evening however, the crowd of about 900
anti-immigrant, German nationalists chanted slogans but refrained from the violent attacks on foreigners and Hitler salutes witnessed during rioting on Sunday and Monday.
As German journalist Felix Huesmann reported, organizers from the far-right group Pro-Chemnitz urged the protesters not to make what they described as “nice greetings with the right arm extended towards Heaven,” so that there would be “no bad pictures” for journalists derided as “the Lying Press” to publish.
I say!

Besides... I live in The Netherlands, that was occupied from 1940 till 1945 by the German Nazis, and my family belonged to the very few who resisted the Nazis: my mother was in the resistance; my father was in the resistance; my grandfather was in the resistance; and in August 1941 both my father and grandfather were betrayed by someone from the large group of collaborating Dutchmen (very much larger than the resistance) and then condemned to concentration camp imprisonment by collaborating Dutch judges, as "political terrorists".

So yes: I am definitely concerned about the growth of a new German Nazism, for that is what it is.

Here is more:

Many of the Chemnitz residents who attended a nearby meeting with the leader of the regional government, Michael Kretschmer, also blamed the media for the viral images of mayhem and neo-Nazi violence in the city earlier in the week, according to Benjamin Konietzny of the German broadcaster NTV.

The most alarming of those images showed marauding white supremacists chasing people with dark skin, interrupting national news broadcasts with the banned Nazi salute, and chanting neo-Nazi slogans like “Free, social, and national: National Socialism now,” and “Adolf Hitler hooligans.”

I say!

By the way (and this has little to do with the article, but I found it strange): I read German fluently, but the vast majority of Americans simply doesn't know German. I also despise Tweets and am only prepared to quote them if I know the person's name (in the Tweet, which is always repeated) is real, which I only very rarely know.

So why are there no less than nine German Tweets, that are also wholly untranslated in this article?!

Back to the article, and this is the last bit that I quote from it:

After the fatal stabbing of the German-Cuban man in Chemnitz this week, an AfD member of parliament, Markus Frohnmaier, took a page from Trump’s playbook by posting an incendiary tweet, which read: “If the state cannot protect its citizens, people will take to the streets and do it themselves. Simple! It is now a civic duty to stop deadly ‘knife migration.’ It could have been your father, son or brother!”

So this is the message of the German neo-Nazis: Everybody has to get guns to stop (evict or kill) the immigrants, and especially colored ones. And this is a strongly recommended article, though it may help if you read German.

2. The Continuing Tragedy of the Separated Children

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

“I didn’t like the sight or the feeling of families being separated,” President Trump said on June 20, when he signed an executive order halting his administration’s depraved practice of separating migrant children from parents seeking asylum at the nation’s southern border. “This will solve that problem.”

It may be that signing such an order was a matter of conscience for Mr. Trump — that he felt morally compelled to address the humanitarian crisis caused by his own “zero tolerance” border policy.

But if so, the matter should still upset him. While family separations have slipped from the spotlight — allowing Mr. Trump to enjoy his morning executive time without enduring televised images of sobbing migrant children — the crisis itself is far from over. Hundreds of children remain separated from their parents. Many of those who have been reunited bear the scars of trauma. Migrant families continue to be rounded up into government detention centers, though now at least they are being held together.

I have two remarks on the above quotation:

First, to speak of a conscience in the case of Donald Trump is a ridiculous contradiction in this psychologist's ears: Trump is a serious case of megalomania aka narcissistic personality disorder (which also is increasing) and megalomaniacs have no empathy with others, which is an alternative for saying that they have no conscience.

And second - and I am getting rather angry about this - what Trump and his government did was not so much "separating families" as KIDNAPPING children. In case you doubt this, here is the beginning of the Wikipedia on kidnapping:


In criminal law, kidnapping is the unlawful carrying away (asportation) and confinement of a person against their will.
It is evidently this that Trump and his government did.

Here is more (and in fact these are - legal - arguments that what Trump and his government did indeed was and is kidnapping):

With its zero-tolerance barbarism, the Trump administration managed to do an impressive amount of damage in a very short time. In the six weeks the policy was in effect, more than 2,600 children were taken from their parents, with zero thought or planning for how the families might eventually be reunited.

Less than a week after the executive order, a federal judge, Dana Sabraw, ruling in a class-action suit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union, placed a temporary injunction on family separations and ordered the administration to reunite all those it had already torn apart. A deadline of July 26 was set, with children under the age of 5 put on a fast track.

More than a month past that deadline, progress is mixed. After a bumpy start, and with occasional foot dragging on the government’s part, more than 2,000 children have been reunited with their parents.
Yes indeed - but this means that Trump and his government still hold over 500 children kidnapped, quite possibly in cages.

Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:
Medical professionals warn of long-term emotional and psychological damage, including anxiety disorders, depression, trust issues, memory problems and developmental delays. And these are the “lucky" ones. As of late August, more than 500 children still languished in government custody — scared, confused and unsure of ever seeing their parents again. A few dozen have parents who have been deemed ineligible for reunification because of criminal records or other circumstances. (Disqualifying offenses include drug-possession charges, ID violations and drunken-driving convictions.)

Yes. The medical professionals are right about the long-term damages (but Trump has no conscience: the only one who counts in Trump's world is Trump, plus possibly his daughter Ivanka, because I saw two videos in which he said he would like to fuck her, were it not that he is her father).

As to the "
disqualifying offenses": These are utter sado-fascistic bullshit. What the sadist Trump says is in effect: "Well, I kidnapped your children, but if you have a drunk-driving conviction or had problems with your ID, I insist that your child is better of in a U.S. prison than in your hands".

This is explicit, clear, arbitrary and very cruel sadism. And this is a recommended article.

3. Fraud at the Heart of Republican Tax Cuts

This article is by Tom Cantlon on AlterNet and originally on DC Report. It starts as follows:
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce wants us to be excited about how much the Trump tax cut will save the typical American on a utility bill. Get out your coffee cup because that’s about how much it’s going to save you, the price of a cup of coffee.
Perhaps I should add that it is the commercial price of a cup of coffee (in a restaurant) - but apart from this "enormous" correction, Cantlon is quite right.

Here is more:

How do taxes affect utilities? Because any utility that is regulated and has seen expenses go down, because they’re paying less in taxes. That savings should be passed on to the consumer.

How does that come out to a cup of coffee? My state of Arizona serves as an average example. Take the total projected tax savings for regulated utilities in the state, which the chamber puts at $765 million over five years, divide by years, and by population, times typical members per household, comes to a little over $4 per household per month. That number is confirmed in the Policy Analysis which they released listing the details. It finds a household might save as much as just over $7 per month, or, depending on the state, down to less than a buck and a half. For a typical two-earner household, $4 might buy each bread-winner one cup of coffee.

Yes, I agree: This is - so to speak - rough and ready, but it is adequate for the poor and the so-called middle classes (who soon may be poor as well).

In contrast, there is this on the rich:

For instance, did America need help coming up with capital for expansion? When corporate profits were continuing to reach new highs? When corporate cash-on-hand was also setting records? When stock buybacks (basically when a company has so much cash it doesn’t know what to do with it other than to give a bunch of it to investors) had grown to unusually high levels?

And all of that corporate cash “parked” overseas? Can you imagine that these big corporations would actually let huge amounts of wealth just sit idle? It is not sitting idle. It can be used for corporate expansion overseas and it can be invested in anything other than the company here without being repatriated and taxed.
I agree, with a similar qualification as above.

Here is the last bit I quote from this article:

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce wants us to be excited about our cups of coffee, and that’s not spin or exaggeration, that’s confirmed by them. It’s in their paper. They want us to be excited about that, and they’re sticking to it.

So? Are you excited? Or would a more accurate word be, agitated?

Well, now you ask, I am sick of it, and this is a recommended article.

4. VIPS Tells Media Support for Brennan is Not Unanimous

This article is the reproduction of a mail to The Media by the VIPS. It has a summary:
In this memo, VIPS tells the news media that the revocation of John Brennan’s security clearance is falsely being portrayed as an assault on the freedom of speech of the deeply flawed, former CIA director.
First, I like the VIPS. And second, I agree with them on this question, and they also provide some facts and arguments I did not know.

Here is more:
As former members of the intelligence community, we feel compelled to add our voice to the public debate surrounding President Trump’s revocation of former CIA Director John Brennan’s security clearance. This action is being falsely portrayed as an assault on Mr. Brennan’s right to free speech.

We note that some of our former colleagues, a number of whom have held prominent intelligence posts, joined the protest against the President’s actions — a phenomenon that provides stark reminder that the United States intelligence community is not a monolith but rather a collection of diverse individuals with a range of opinions on many issues, including what is right and wrong, We the undersigned veteran intelligence professionals agree with President Trump’s decision to strip Mr. Brennan of his clearance.
In brief, the right to free speech is (not at all) the same as having a security clearance, and the VIPS agree with Trump's decision to revoke the latter.

Also, here are some facts I did not know about security clearances:
Anyone who has read VIPS memos knows we have often expressed opposition to this President’s actions — as we have to those of previous Presidents — on important substantive issues when the  intelligence was faulty. 

The issue for us is broader than the clearances of Mr. Brennan. We are appalled by the willful misreading by pundits and much of the media of the nature of security clearances. They are certainly not a constitutionally protected right, but a highly conditional privilege. Its granting comes with personal acceptance of restrictions on speech and association: among other things obligating one-time holders to a lifetime pre-publication review of writings that rely on information acquired in performing their official duties.

All of us signed secrecy agreements and accepted the burden of holding a clearance. We surrendered a part of our assumed right to free speech in service of our country’s welfare and safety. Those of us under cover kept secrets from family and friends. We no longer associated freely with foreign nationals; an active clearance carries the requirement to report contacts with them.
I say: Not only is the right to free speech is (not at all) the same as having a security clearance, but having a security clearance quite severely restricts your constitutional rights to free speech, indeed even with your own family and friends.

There follow several paragraphs that list failings of Brennan that I skip except the last, that is about Brennan and torture:
Mr. Brennan has assumed the role of passive spectator in building the fraudulent case to justify the 2003 invasion of Iraq. He has claimed only vague awareness of the CIA’s so-called “enhanced interrogation” program. Physical records tell a different story. Brennan was “cc-ed” on “a minimum of 50 memos” dealing with waterboarding and other torture techniques. Senator Saxbe Chambliss noted that Brennan’s boss, A. B. “Buzzy” Krongard, told the Wall Street Journal that Mr. Brennan had a role in setting the parameters of the program and “helping to seek Justice Department approval for the techniques.”

Mr. Brennan also attempted to cover up the truth about the CIA torture. Senator Mark Udall denounced his actions in a floor speech on December 10, 2014, the day after the Senate Intelligence Committee published the Executive Summary of the conclusions of its four-year investigation of CIA torture based on original CIA documents.  The investigation not only revealed almost unbelievably heinous practices, but also demonstrated that senior CIA officials were untruthful in claiming that “enhanced” techniques produced actionable intelligence that could not have been obtained by traditional interrogation practices.
Here’s Senator Udall:
    “The CIA has lied to its overseers and the public, destroyed and tried to hold back evidence, spied on the Senate, made false charges against our staff, and lied about torture and the results of torture. And no one has been held to account. … There are right now people serving at high-level positions at the agency who approved, directed, or committed acts related to the CIA’s detention and interrogation program.”
Yes indeed. And this is a recommended article.

5. Reviving the Spirit of ’68

This article is Robert C. Koehler on Common Dreams. It has a summary:
I fear the forces the antiwar protesters were confronting fifty years ago have made a shift in keeping with their deepest interests: not to “win” the wars but simply to make sure they continue
I agree with the summary and go to the start of the article:

I was a hippie/bicycle delivery boy living in San Francisco when the Democratic National Convention was held in Chicago fifty years ago, so I absorbed the chaos, the police riot, from half a continent away, but I knew with absolute certainty that the nation was changing and I was part of it.

We were in the violent spasm of transition. How long would it last? MLK and RFK, as they called for peace and sanity and civil rights for all, had just been assassinated. This was the God of War, turning its vengeance inward.

Yes. I am probably a few years older than Koehler and was 18 in 1968. Then again, I was and am Dutch, and my background was probably quite different: I was strongly politically committed then, in considerable part because of my education by communist parents, who had been very heroic in the resistance against the Nazis, and that was the main reason I recall quite a lot of 1968, including going to Paris in May and June to see what was happening in the - failed - revolution that was taking place there, and I also followed the American news, including news about the 1968 Democratic Convention and the resulting trials.

Here is more:

As I read about the chaos in Chicago at the convention — the thousands of cops and National Guardsmen and U.S. troops storming the protesters, whacking them with their batons, throwing them into paddy wagons, as the pro-war consensus (epitomized by the grimace on the face of Chicago’s mayor, Richard J. Daley) held tight to the reins of power — I felt myself quietly retreat back into my own life. The “movement” wasn’t going to remake America. Or rather, idealism all by itself wasn’t going to bring about the world I had envisioned with such certainty as I sat on the steps of the Pentagon.

I didn’t surrender my idealism; I didn’t turn into a cynic. But I shifted my focus to my own life and returned to school. Half a century later . . .

I gape in awe at how little has changed.

Yes indeed, I quite agree - and it is not just that (so to speak) The God of War is still at the helm in the USA, mostly simply because war is very profitable for the makers of weapons (and as Milton Friedman said, corporations have and should have just one norm: Making profits, the larger, the better): The same is true of ecology, of politics and politicians, and of more things.

Back to the article:

“The reality is that the war has created the world’s worst humanitarian catastrophe today,” Moustafa Bayoumi wrote recently in The Guardian. “Three-quarters of the population, some 22 million Yemenis, require humanitarian assistance and protection. About 8.4 million people hang on the brink of starvation and another 7 million lie malnourished. Since 2015, more than 28,000 thousand people have been killed or injured, and many thousands more have died from causes exacerbated by war, such as a cholera epidemic that has afflicted more than a million people and claimed over 2,300 lives. At least one child dies every 10 minutes from causes linked to the war, according to the United Nations.”

I say - and incidentally "8.4 million people hang[ing] on the brink of starvation" are more than the 6 million Jews that were murdered by the Nazis (though the 8,4 million are - so far - only starving).

Here is more:

Actually, something has changed — the opposite of what I had anticipated in 1967, as I sat on the steps of the Pentagon, or in 1968, as I silently cheered the protesters demanding that the Democratic Party become a party of peace.

The war in Yemen, which the U.S. is making possible with billions of dollars in weapons sales to the Saudi coalition, is barely even news. Neither are the wars — at least seven of them — in which the U.S. is directly participating, including Iraq (15 years and counting) and Afghanistan (17 years and counting). I fear the forces the antiwar protesters were confronting fifty years ago have made a shift in keeping with their deepest interests: not to “win” the wars but simply to make sure they continue.

Yes, I entirely agree, except that I think I know what is the deepest interest of those who continue, and continue, and continue the many wars the USA is fighting since 2001: profits, either because they receive them directly, or because they are paid by those who receive them directly e.g. because they are important politicians.

Here is more:

In America, clichés rule. We may bomb children, and (even more to the point) manufacture and sell the bombs that take out school buses, etc., etc., etc., but we still pull out our clichés about freedom and honor and such, stale as they may be, on a moment’s notice.

Yes indeed - and the point is that the "clichés about freedom and honor" are meant to defend making war on people in the Middle East and Afghanistan, and to destroy whole countries.

Here is more:

It took several decades, but Militarized America did achieve its one and only post-World War II victory. It defeated Vietnam Syndrome. Step one was eliminating the draft, which freed the public from any personal risk — and thus, any real stake — in future wars, leaving only a poverty draft to fill the ranks, and who cares about them?
Victory no longer matters. A seemingly rational mission no longer matters. Clichés and a bloated military budget are enough.

Yes indeed. Eliminating the draft was done by Nixon, and thus a drafted army from average guys, that also comprised some of the sons of the rich, because the draft covered every male of 18, was replaced by an army made up of poor and badly educated males.

As to the last bit quoted: It was less the "bloated military budget" that mattered as the truly enormous profits generated by it for very big corporations (and as an aside, as extra income for politicians who supported them).

Here is the last sentence of the article:

The War God is ruthless and clever and will not give up. Neither should we.

I agree, though I think I should add that it seems to be a fact that most Americans do not feel like protesting the fact that Americans are murdering foreigners at a large rate as long as  Americans have no risk of being drafted. 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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