February 16, 2016

Crisis: 9/11, Paranoid Israel, Pentagon, Republicans, Evil TTIP
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Donald Trump Does Away With the GOP’s 9/11 Fantasy
2. Netanyahu's Paranoid Meltdown Edition
The Pentagon Is the Most Spoiled Child of the Federal

4. The Death of the Republican Party
5. European Groups Expose 'Terrifying Extent of Corporate
     Grab' Within TTIP


This is a Nederlog of Tuesday, February 16, 2016.

This is a crisis blog. There are 5 items with 5 dotted links: Item 1 is about the GOP's baloney about 9/11; item 2 is about the craziness that rules part of Israel under Netanyahu's government; item 3 is about the enormous financial desires of the Pentagon, for more money to make more wars; item 4 is about an article by Robert Reich that claims the Republican Party is dead (but I don't believe it); and item 5 is about the very great dangers of the TTIP for Europe: For me, it heralds - if accepted - the arrival of a "legal" kind of fascism, that will very soon remake Europe into another USA, including its many bad laws (for these are the most profitable to multi-national corporations, and their profits are the only thing that really counts, also "legally" if the TTIP gets to be "law").

1. Donald Trump Does Away With the GOP’s 9/11 Fantasy

This first
item is by Eugene Robinson on Truthdig:

This starts as follows (and is here because of the GOP and 9/11):

“Surely this time,” the establishment chorus cries with joy, “Donald Trump has gone too far!”

Sorry, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

What Trump did at Saturday night’s debate was ruder than any of his prior insults, profanities or remarks about women. He corrected the historical record about the 9/11 attacks, demolishing the fairy-tale version that has become a central tenet of Republican dogma. It’s true, and you can look it up: George W. Bush was president when the World Trade Center towers fell.

READ: Face It: Donald Trump Is Right About Iraq—and That Should Sink Hillary Clinton

I say - and of course the main thing about Donald Trump's attack on the GOP's myths about 9/11 is that he is a presidential candidate for the GOP, and also  one who has considerable success with Republican electorates (so far).

The writer of the article also has opinions:

Trump went too far, of course, as he always does. He sought to actually blame the attacks on negligence by Bush and his administration. As I’ve argued in the past, terrorist atrocities should be blamed on the terrorists, not on the officials who try and sometimes fail to thwart them.

I disagree, and for two reasons: (1) the official story about 9/11 was a bunch of lies. I do not know the explanation for the lies, but they were lies - according to many physicists, architects and other specialists, whom I trust a lot more than a couple of senators. And (2) surely the blame ought to be shared somehow (being an anti-terrorist does not make you faultless) - and again there were major oddities on 9/11 with security: Why were there no fighter planes available, for example (and quite a few more questions)?

Then there is this:

But historical fact is historical fact—except in polite GOP circles. After Trump committed his heresy, telling Jeb Bush that “the World Trade Center came down during your brother’s reign,” Marco Rubio quickly began an incantation of the Republican Creed: George W. Bush “kept us safe,” Rubio said, “and I am forever grateful for what he did for this country.”

What Trump is quoted as saying indeed is an elementary fact. And while Rubio apparently got stuck in yet another of his learned-by-heart speeches, Eugene Robinson is too optimistic about historical facts: These have been denied by many others than are in "polite GOP circles", mostly because that served some sort of popular lie.

This is from the end and seems correct:

But the biggest transgression, perhaps, was to cite a more accurate history of the Bush administration’s “war on terror.” Months ago, Trump pressured all the other candidates—including Jeb Bush—into agreeing that the war in Iraq was a mistake. Now he is challenging what I call the Bogeyman Claim: Vote for Democrats and terrorists will come and get you. Vote for Republicans and your family will be safe.

Saturday night’s debate was nothing short of a bare-knuckles brawl, full of personal attacks and allegations of bald-faced lying. But the most serious damage was not to any candidate but to the GOP’s carefully constructed fantasy world.

Incidentally: I do not watch the GOP debates, nor indeed the Democratic ones, although these are more interesting (from reports that I did read).

There are two main reasons for this: First, I dislike nearly all political speeching by anyone on anything. And second, these speeches by presidential candidates are reviewed by - literally - many hundreds or thousands of journalists, so I do not need to do what I don't like to do anyway.

Finally, as I started saying: I reported this bit not because of Donald Trump, but because he denied as a presidential candidate one of the major myths of the GOP.

2. Netanyahu's Paranoid Meltdown Edition
The second item is by David Sheen on AlterNet:

This starts as follows:

The second week of February 2016 was a banner week for racism in Israel, with shockingly racist rhetoric from Prime Minister Netanyahu, genocidal references from his backbenchers and fulsome attacks on Palestinian leaders from his entire government.

David Sheen explains this in five sections, with the following titles:

1. Netanyahu’s racist incitement.
2. Palestine doesn’t exist because Arabs can’t pronounce
3. New Knesset proposal declares Arabs the real
4. One man’s terrorist is an Israeli politician’s friend.
5. The Genocide convention.

You can read the text of the sections by clicking the last dotted link.

Here are my brief summaries:

1. Netanyahu wants to build a fence around all of Israel to defend it from the 'wild beasts' that surround Israel. 2. Palestinians have no rights as a people because they cannot pronounce the "p". 3. Some Israelis hold that the Bible proves that the Israelis (the Jews, though they may have difficulties with the letter "j") were first in Israel (3500 years ago), and therefore it is theirs. 4. Palestinian Members of the Knesseth were suspended for months for committing the crime of meeting with Palestinians. 5. While the Israeli government attacks Palestinians for sympathizing with terrorist they themselves congregate with a rabbi who calls on the "Jews to march on the rest of the Middle East and to exterminate all men who refuse to abandon Christianity and Islam."

I think these brief summaries justify the title of the article, for this is just plain madness.

3. The Pentagon Is the Most Spoiled Child of the Federal Govt

The third item is by Tom Engelhardt on AlterNet and originally on his site:

In fact I will be quoting only from Engelhardt's introduction to another article (that you can find by clicking the last link).

Engelhardt starts like this:

Here’s my little joke of the month: How do you spell Pentagon? M-O-R-E.

Whether it’s funny or not, it couldn’t be more accurate. And that urge for more is fed endlessly by an American military that has increasingly become the only “option” on that mythical “table” in Washington where all options are supposedly kept. Recently, Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter previewed the proposed new Pentagon budget for 2017, and one thing is evident: war is in the money. The Obama administration wants to double the funding for the war against the Islamic State to $7 billion, money to be ponied up by a Congress that refuses to declare war on the Islamic State.

Not only that:

At the same time, the proposed budget calls for a quadrupling to $3.4 billion of what might be considered next-war funding. Think of it as financing for a prospective future European face-off against Vladimir Putin & Co. Yes, Russia, a rickety energy state facing plunging oil prices and rising discontent, turns out, according to Carter, to be America’s latest looming enemy du jour. The defense secretary is planning to use that $3.4 billion to “stockpile heavy weapons, armored vehicles, and other military equipment” across Central and Eastern Europe, station “a full armored combat brigade” (4,000 or more troops) in the region, and “construct or refurbish maintenance facilities, airfields, and training ranges in seven European countries: Bulgaria, Estonia, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Romania.” (All of them, except half of Germany, were once part of the Soviet bloc.)

In case you thought that was all: There is more, on even more spendings on war, indeed all over the globe: The Americans are everywhere.

Here is the ending of the introduction - and note that there is also a 'pivot China' and a 'pivot Africa' for the Americans:

Which brings us back to that proposed 2017 Pentagon budget. The skyrocketing funding to move new U.S. troops and equipment into the former Soviet areas of Europe and build (or build up) yet more "facilities" there means that, in 2016, we may be witnessing a “pivot to Europe” as well. You could think of it all collectively as the Pentagon’s pivot to more or less everywhere, or just spell it out as M-O-R-E and be done with it.

Yes, indeed. And Obama wants all these major investments in war and destruction, while the USA is growing poorer and poorer, though indeed except for the 1% of the very rich and their lawyers, families and friends.

4. The Death of the Republican Party

The fourth item is by Robert Reich on his site:

This starts as follows:

I’m writing to you today to announce the death of the Republican Party. It is no longer a living, vital, animate organization. 

It died in 2016. RIP.

It has been replaced by warring tribes:

Evangelicals opposed to abortion, gay marriage, and science.

Libertarians opposed to any government constraint on private behavior.

Market fundamentalists convinced the “free market” can do no wrong.

Corporate and Wall Street titans seeking bailouts, subsidies, special tax loopholes, and other forms of crony capitalism.

Actually, I think this is a bit of an exaggeration: The "warring tribes" were there for a long time, and I do not know of any prominent Republican who said his party is dead. (But I agree there may be such - but not known to me.)

Then again, what does seem to be dead is the semblance of unity that the Republicans emanated, and indeed one important reason that died is Donald Trump's blowing up the myths about 9/11 (see item 1).

Here is Robert Reich on the death he announced:

I, for one, regret its passing. Our nation needs political parties to connect up different groups of Americans, sift through prospective candidates, deliberate over priorities, identify common principles, and forge a platform.

My own guess is that they will get over it, though I agree they have done the things Reich mentions extremely badly in 2015 and 2016.

And here is Reich's ending:

Without a Republican Party, nothing stands between us and a veritable Star Wars barroom of self-proclaimed wanna-be’s. 

Without a Party, anyone runs who’s able to raise (or already possesses) the requisite money – even if he happens to be a pathological narcissist who has never before held public office, even if he’s a knave detested by all his Republican colleagues.  

Without a Republican Party, it’s just us and them. And one of them could even become the next President of the United States.

I mostly agree with the diagnosis, except that (i) I think it holds for quite a while now, indeed because (ii) the Republican party did extremely badly in sifting serious presidential candidates, but (iii) it isn't dead yet, and probably
it will survive these presidential elections as well.

5. European Groups Expose 'Terrifying Extent of Corporate Grab' Within TTIP

The fifth item is by Deirdre Fulton on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:
According to the London-based Global Justice Now and the Netherlands-headquartered Transnational Institute, the TransAtlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) "would massively increase the ability of corporations to sue member states of the EU over measures such as windfall taxes on exceptional profits, or use of taxation as a policy instrument such as a possible 'sugar tax'."
Yes, but in reality it is much worse than that, and I explain it once again:

The TTIP is a completely anti-democratic authoritarian secret attempt to found fascism forever [1] (also with the help of the NSA), for it is introduced in a secret way in which parliamentarians are deeply denigrated and cannot even take notes or talk about what they've read (!!) (and which they cannot read all or most of in such time as they get to read this monstrosity) and it takes away almost all national powers:

The national governments will be undone; the national parliaments will be undone; the national judiciaries will be undone; and all of these will be undone by unending attacks on any government, any parliament or any judiciary that dares to do anything that might lessen the expected profits from multi-national corporations, that are free to oppose any such - governmental, parliamentary or judiciary - effort by claims of millions or billions in compensation from the taxes that the inhabitants of these nations have to pay, and which, under these treaties, will get done by the very own lawyers of the multinational corporations in their very own fascistic "courts", which know no appeals, and which transcend all national laws, all national judiciaries, and all national parliaments.

If anything ever deserved to be called planned, legal fascism by corporate design it this utterly fascistic sickness.

In case you doubt my claims (which is always allowed) consult the first of the following links (a 1 MB download, that is good and clear, but indeed doesn't mention fascism):

The report (pdf) zeroes in, as others have done, on the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provisions that are an integral part not only of the TTIP but of other massive and
controversial trade deals currently under negotiation. It shows that corporations have already used such provisions of existing trade deals to sue at least 24 countries, from India to Romania, over 40 tax-related disputes, in some cases successfully challenging and lowering their tax bills.
The other links in the above quotation also are good. You will find a list of cases in the report (pdf). Here is a final bit from the article:

The report underscores that supposed tax 'carve-outs', written into trade or investment treaties in an effort to limit the ability of investors to file tax-related ISDS cases, have not succeeded in stopping taxes being challenged and defeated.

"Though some of these carve-out clauses are stronger and clearer than others, they have not prevented lawyers from filing tax-related ISDS cases, and they have not prevented arbitrators from agreeing to consider them," the report reads. "The language in these treaties is often convoluted and sometimes contradictory, with exceptions within exceptions—giving lawyers a lot to argue about but making it difficult for policymakers to know what actions could risk a treaty claim."

What's more, the report points out, "The threat of an expensive ISDS case can be as powerful as actually filing one. With states unclear about what might trigger successful claims, the safest course of action is to never threaten a multinational corporation's profits—a dangerous prospect for tax justice and public interest laws."

Precisely - and why oppose the ISDS if these anyway transcend all law you can throw at them and only consider whether the expected profits have been reached? And this is done in a foreign court manned by lawyers-from-the-
corporations who act as judges? Without any appeal? Without any parties other
than corporations and states?

Anyway... it is all very horrible and also very evil (in a cunning, totally dishonest and utterly sick lawyerly way) but my guess is that most of the - few - European politicians who might (have) stop(ped) the TTIP have been bought, and that (therefore) the horrible TTIP will become European "law".

Also, this is a recommended article.


[1] Also once again: I am using this definition of the term "fascism" that according to my extensive knowledge is adequate:
"fascism" is defined as "A system of government that exercises a dictatorship of the extreme right, typically through the merging of state and business leadership, together with belligerent nationalism."
The TTIP (and the TTP and the TiSA and the CETA and also the NAFTA) are or were explicit attempts to found a dictatorship "through the merging of state and business leadership" by almost completely annulling the rights of nations, of governments, of parliaments and of judges to make their own decisions by their own criterions in conformity with the democratic majority of their own nations.

Instead, everything done by any nation with such a sick treaty as mentioned above will be judged by some external "court" with just one criterion: Does it or does it not give the full profits the multi-nationals expected?

And if it does not the inhabitants of that country may have to pay the multi-national corporations hundreds of millions or several billions to make up for the profits the corporations claim they lost - for example, because the majority of that nation believed that some other things (health, environment, education, law, decency, morals, etc. etc.) were more important than multi-national profits.

No, they are not according to
the TTIP, the TTP, the TiSA, the CETA and the NAFTA: Nothing matters except the expected profits that the CEOs of multi- nationals desire.

That is the essence of the TTIP, the TTP, the TiSA, the CETA and the NAFTA and that essence is full fascism as defined, or worse, for this time the state has not "merged" but is made a subordinate subject to external "courts" run for CEOs interests that very well never were in the state they challenged for not giving them all the profits they expected.

And the TTIP will rapidly make Europe into another USA, for most of the laws that make Europe a better place for most of its inhabitants are subject to destruction by the "courts" of the multi-national corporations that serve just one major end: The maximization of the profits of multi-national corporations.

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